The rockin’ echoes of outlaw country will waft down the midway amidst excitement and the scent of elephant ears and other deep-fried goodies as the Night Owl Country Band takes the stage at 7 p.m. Saturday at the David Boll Theatre to help kick off the opening weekend of the 2022 Bartholomew County 4-H Fair at the Bartholomew County Fairgrounds.

“All our fans seem to love going to the fair,” says Matt Lee, lead singer for the Night Owl Country Band. “They will run, grab a corn dog, elephant ear or lemon shake-up and they’ll come down to the David Boll Theatre and enjoy the music for a couple of hours and then hit the midway.”

Lee has many fond memories from the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair, he says. Recalling when his parents would bring him as a youngster, Lee always enjoyed the fair’s ambiance of bright lights, music and, of course, the people.

“Now, when people come to the fair, they’re seeing me do the music part of it,” he adds.

Saturday’s 7 p.m. show is just one on a long list of gigs the guys are playing this summer, including an appearance at the Lake Ozark Music Festival in Missouri, Lee says, and will feature some southern rock, Night Owl favorites and a little bit of country… outlaw style.

“We are teetering more toward the outlaw country sound,” Lee says. “And… we are trying to keep Tim Dooley young.”

Included in the set list will be a new tune called “All It Takes Is a Song,” written by the band’s bassist Brett Denney.

“Basically, the song talks about anything you go through in life, you can pin it to a song,” Lee explains. “If you are going through a hard time and hear a song play it may help you come out of it.”

Of course, Dooley – who is currently working on a beard refresh – says he always enjoys playing the fair because it is a chance to see all the hometown folks.

“The fair has such a great atmosphere anyway, and it is just a happy place,” Dooley says. “To be part of that and share our music with people who are having a good time is what it’s all about.”

In recent years, the guys have had the pleasure of performing with some country greats and their kin, Dooley says. Most recently the group shared Hope’s bandstand with country music star Jesse Keith Whitley, the son of the late Keith Whitley and Lorrie Morgan, during Hope’s first annual Thunder on the Square last weekend. 

And though performances alongside celebrity bring experience and make for great memories, it is certainly not something the guys take for granted.

“We’ve really been blessed,” Dooley says. “We just keep doing what we do. We are really honored to do it. We try to work hard and keep pushing forward where a lot of others get discouraged and quit. We love all our fans and every opportunity we get.”

And they’re looking forward to playing for the fan base that helped launched this wonderful, musical journey, they say.

Coupled with their anticipation for Saturday's performance is a hope that there will be a break from one dampening tradition before the first chord is strummed.

“Hopefully, it won’t rain this time,” Dooley says. “Usually when we play the fair it rains, so hopefully we have good weather.”