The Durham Fair is held over four days in September, but for many of the hundreds of volunteers that help organize and run it, the fair is a year round committment.
Wendy Manemeit, who serves as director of entertainment for the fair, spends all year planning and adjusting the fair's entertainment schedule, which this year includes the Grammy Award winning group Blues Traveler.
"It's a lot of juggling. My phone calls start October first, probably until around January," explains Manemeit, who comes from a family of longtime fair volunteers and works with a group of about two-dozen volunteers in the entertainment department.
"The week after the fair I will start giving a list of about 250 names to my agent in Nashville."
The list of potential acts is eventually whittled down to a much smaller pool of entertainers who are willing to perform in "New England, in the fall," she says.
Booking entertainers for the fair is made even more difficult by what's known as the 60/60 rule. The rule prevents the fair from hiring any acts that perform within 60 miles of Durham, 60-days before or after the fair.
"I'm competing with the casinos," says Manemeit about the challenge she faces drawing big names to an agricultural fair.
She must also take into consideration the popularity of the performer.
"At one point I quoted Christina Aguliera for $15,000. She was unknown. Three months later Geenie In A Bottle came out, she was a hundred grand, in three months."
Manemeit is a member of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions, an organization that provides support to local fairs. Through the IAFE, she is able to work with other fair organizers to schedule similar acts, which not only helps to keep costs down but prevents last minute cancelations.
"They are less likely to cancel us, because then they'd have to cancel three or four shows," she says.
Days before the fair even opens the Main Stage will arrive from Montreal, Canada and work crews will begin installing the lighting and the "half-million dollar sound system."
"It's very stressful," she says with a smile.
And then there's the food. Performers like KC and the Sunshine Band and Blues Traveler require catering.
"I have a group of gals, maybe 15 of them. They're called the Durham Fair Pink Ladies. They do all the shopping, all the cooking, all the meals for the entertainers."
A group of volunteer men will also serve as the entertainer's "roadies," handling everything from moving equipment on and off the main stage, to serving as sercurity guards during performances.
"What we don't have, what we pride ourselves on, we don't put up a privacy fence," explains Manemeit, who says hay bales are used instead to allow for a more personal experience.
Fairgoers can catch many of the local acts, which include Middie and the Country Gentleman and Aquatudes, on the Green Stage.
Center Stage will be alive each day with a variety of performances.
Manemeit says one of the highlights of this year's fair entertainment lineup will be the Talent Show, which has been combined to include acts of all ages and will feature twenty local performers.
"The show is going to be huge," she says. "Phenomenal!"
The Durham Fair Talent show will be held at Center Stage on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 2 p.m.
For a complete list of events visit the Durham Fair website.