Josh Gracin to perform at Berkeley County Youth Fair

July 31, 2008|By JULIE E. GREENE

Long before "American Idol," Josh Gracin was having some success performing at fairs and festivals, even winning a national pops orchestra and vocal competition.

He was 16 when he won that competition, Gracin, now 27, recalled during a recent phone interview.

Still, at age 20, he decided to forgo a career in music for the time being and join the Marines.

Gracin said he tried performing for eight years, since he was 12 years old. "Nothing was working. ... It was just not the right time. I was too young," said Gracin, who lives in Nashville.

Then along came season two of American Idol in 2003, when Gracin brought country to the popular talent reality show, finishing fourth during the season Ruben Studdard won.

Now Gracin's single "We Weren't Crazy," from his second album of the same name, has made a slow climb to the top 10 of Billboard's Hot Country Songs list and he's on tour.


He'll be performing Wednesday, Aug. 6, at the 2008 Berkeley County Youth Fair at the Youth Fairgrounds near Martinsburg, W.Va.

Gracin talked about his career Friday during a phone interview from Iowa, where he was preparing to sing after taking a couple days to rest his vocal chords on doctor's orders.

"It was pretty bad. I'm still healing. I'm still a little raspy. ... I don't slow down, and I push it past what I should," Gracin said.

Gracin said he's used to touring. The wear and tear has come from taking about 120 flights in three months. An enclosed plane is a haven for getting sick, he said.

"I try very, very hard not to cancel a show," Gracin said. But when he has to rest, the first thing he cancels is anything scheduled between shows -- such as this interview, postponed two days to give him a chance to rest.

Fans can expect a high-energy show with a band that interacts with the crowd, throwing drumsticks and a few rock covers in with his country tunes.

Gracin's new single, "Unbelievable," will be released Aug. 25. He wrote the song and dedicated it to his wife, Ann Marie.

Song writing is something Gracin is getting into more. He co-wrote the single "We Weren't Crazy," and will be more involved with the writing of his third album, which he plans to start work on in summer 2009.

Now he's touring the country through early October and trying to put a college tour together for this fall and winter.

Between the tours, he'll be taking a break. He and his wife are expecting their fourth child in November.

He's also trying to get another gig performing for troops overseas. He performed during a 10-day tour for military personnel in Iraq last summer.

"I loved it. It was a great experience. ... Knowing we were out there doing shows for them, seeing them have a great time" Gracin said.

But it took him three years to get on such a tour and "everyone's fighting for a position" to do that again, Gracin said.

It was during Gracin's four years with the Marines that he was temporarily assigned to the Los Angeles public affairs office so he could also compete on "American Idol." His regular duty was as a supply operations manager at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego.

He wasn't a troubled kid when he joined the Marines, but he benefited from the time he spent in the service. He said he just needed "a little bit of a wake-up call."

"I wanted a sense of direction and I needed a better sense of responsibility and I just needed to grow up a little bit," he said.


6:30 p.m.: Opening ceremonies followed by Miss Berkeley Conty Youth Fair contest, indoor arena


5:30 to 7 p.m.: Local talent, amphitheater

7 p.m.: Vespers program, amphitheater


1:30 p.m.: Small pet show, indoor arena

4 p.m.: Beef barbecue ($6), indoor exhibit hall's front porch

6 p.m.: Carnival opens

6:30 p.m.: Truck and tractor pull, track area

7 p.m.: 4-H style show, indoor arena


1:30 p.m.: Dog show, indoor arena

5 p.m.: Ice cream-eating contest, indoor arena

6 p.m.: Carnival opens

6:30 p.m.: Truck and tractor pull, track area

7 p.m.: Livestock Jeopardy, indoor arena

8 p.m.: Cow chip bingo, indoor arena


4 p.m.: Chicken barbecue ($6), exhibit hall porch

6 p.m.: Carnival opens

6 p.m.: Doughnut-eating contest, indoor arena

7 p.m.: Mini-tractor pull, track area

8 p.m.: Josh Gracin, amphitheater


6 p.m.: Watermelon-eating contest, indoor arena

6 p.m.: Carnival opens

6:30 p.m.: Kiddie pedal pull, indoor arena

8 p.m.: Pretty animal contest, indoor arena

8 p.m.: Bull riding, track area


9 a.m.: Tractor operator contest, horse arena

10 a.m.: Barnyard Olympics, indoor arena

Noon: Indoor exhibits open, exhibit building

2 p.m.: Horse costume contest, horse arena

5:30 p.m.: Celebrity milking contest, indoor arena

6 p.m.: Carnival opens

6:30 p.m.: Livestock sale, indoor arena

8 p.m.: Demolition derby, track area


Noon to 5 p.m.: Martinsburg FFA animal exhibit, barn area

Noon to 10 p.m.: Craft and vendor exhibits, indoor exhibit hall

1 p.m.: Kiddie pedal pull, indoor arena

4 p.m.: Carnival opens

8 p.m. Figure-eight derby, track area

10:30 p.m.: Fireworks


WHAT: 2008 Berkeley County Youth Fair

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 2, through Saturday, Aug. 9. Fair hours are 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2; 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3; 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday, Aug. 4; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5, through Friday, Aug. 8; and noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9. Carnival hours are 6 to 11 p.m. Monday, Aug. 4, through Friday, Aug. 8, and 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9.

WHERE: Youth Fairgrounds on Golf Course Road near Martinsburg, W.Va.

COST: Free on Saturday, Aug. 2, and Sunday, Aug. 3. $5; free for ages 12 and younger from Monday, Aug. 4, to Saturday, Aug. 9. Carnival rides are extra: $15 a night; $12 Tuesday, Aug. 5.

DIRECTIONS: Take Interstate 81 to exit 12. Turn east onto W.Va. 9. Turn left onto Grapevine Road and follow signs to the fair off Golf Course Road.

MORE: For more information, including a more detailed schedule, go to or e-mail

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