There's something for everyone at this year's Manatee County Fair. Even if your tastes run toward such arcane forms of entertainment as pig races, whip-popping contests or lumberjack shows, the 2014 edition of the county fair can give you what you're looking for.
But one of the highlights of the fair, this year and every year, is the live music and music fans aren't likely to be disappointed by this year's lineup.
Now in its 98th year, the fair has built a solid reputation that helps it attract a full slate of quality music acts for all 11 days.
This year's festival opens today and runs through Jan. 26.
By far the biggest star on this year's schedule is Marty Stuart, who rode the top of the country charts in the '80s and early '90s with such songs as "Hillbilly Rock." He's not producing big hits these days, but Stuart has kept busy touring, and his classic style of country tinged with rockabilly has never gone out of style.
Stuart is slated to appear at the fair next Friday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m.
You don't have to wait that long to hear big-name entertainment, though. Christian rock band Building 429 is scheduled to play at 7 p.m. Sunday. They've been one of the biggest acts in the genre for the past decade or so, ever since they won the New Artist of the Year award from the Gospel Music Association in 2005.
Another Christian group, the Ben Davis Project, is schedule to perform just before Building 429, at 6 p.m.
Country family band the Henningsens -- a father and his son and daughter -- have a burgeoning career. Their first album is due out soon, but they've already charted with their first two singles, "American Beautiful" and "I Miss You." Their set is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday.
If you're an Eagles fan but you missed their concert in Tampa a few weeks back, you might want to check out the Alter Eagles, a tribute band set to play at 7 p.m. Jan. 23.
Besides those headline acts, there's plenty of music at the fair all day every day. Several times a day, you can catch Dennis Lee, who's been a regular at almost any fair in Florida for many years. Lee and his band play country and rock and specialize in entertaining the family crowds at festival and fairs.
Al the shows are free with admission to the fair.
Details: Jan. 16- 26, Manatee County Fairgrounds, 1402 14th Ave. W., Palmetto. Tickets: $8 adult, $7 senior (55 and older), $5 military and children 6-12, free for children. Information: 941-722-1639, www.manateecountyfair.com
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.