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Tim McGraw shakes it up at Red River Valley Fair in Fargo

Country crooner was the headliner Saturday, July 9, 2022

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Country star Tim McGraw performs for a full house at the Red River Valley Fair in West Fargo on Saturday, July 9, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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WEST FARGO — If the Red River Valley Fair was hoping to get an artist that could offer a little bit of everything to its grandstand crowd, it succeeded with Tim McGraw's headlining act Saturday, July 9.

The country superstar is known not just for his roughly 40 No. 1 hits, but also his charisma, acting abilities and portrayal of a Dutton in "1883" — a limited series and offshoot of the wildly popular "Yellowstone." McGraw even joked he is also just as well known as "husband of Faith Hill," his talented wife.

But Friday, McGraw took the stage alone just after 8 p.m., swaggering onto the center platform as he questioned the crowd's readiness with the song, "How Bad Do You Want It."

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Country star Tim McGraw performs at the Red River Valley Fair in West Fargo on Saturday, July 9, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Clad in his trademark black hat along with a tight grey T-shirt, tighter jeans, cowboy boots and gold buckle that reached well above his waistline, McGraw wasted no time jumping right from the newer intro song into one of his best-known hits, "Something Like That," also known as the BBQ stain song.

The crowd that included nearly all ages, was a mix of fans of McGraw as both a singer and actor with "1883" printed T-Shirts next to concert T-shirts from McGraw and other country artists, as well as retro 80s bands.

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Country fans fill the grandstands and pit area for the Tim McGraw concert at the Red River Valley Fair in West Fargo on Saturday, July 9, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Fans packed the Red River Valley Fair's grandstand area, with nearly all of the grandstand seating sold out and the general admission area close to fully packed at standing room only.

Red River Valley Fair General Manager Cody Cashman had not totaled attendance as of late Saturday night.

At times, McGraw's band that included a hot pink lead electric guitar made the song transitions sound more like attendees were at a rock concert than a traditional country performance.

McGraw is known for his unique sound with songs that vibe with hints of bluegrass, rock, country western and even rap. His encompassing style of hit songs is likely why he is able to draw fans from across many lines.

While McGraw isn't a showy dancer on stage, he is well aware of what makes his fans swoon, often turning his backside to the crowd and moving between two side stages to get close to — but remain just out of reach of — the standing crowd.

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Country star Tim McGraw performs at the Red River Valley Fair in West Fargo on Saturday, July 9, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

His no-nonsense performance style keeps the show moving quickly, which he warned the audience about from the start.

After just a few songs, alternating between older and newer hits, McGraw greeted the crowd directly, "Good evening. How are y'all doing up here in North Dakota?"

After introducing himself as "Tim," also known as "Faith Hill's husband," he laid down the footprint for the show.

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"We get started and we play all the way through," he said.

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Country fans fill the grandstands and pit area for the Tim McGraw concert at the Red River Valley Fair in West Fargo on Saturday, July 9, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

From there, McGraw jumped back into what he does best, wooing the crowds and singing nearly nonstop. He included hits such as "Just to See You Smile," "Don't Take the Girl" and riffed into "Over and Over," a duet with Hip Hop Artist Nelly that topped the charts in the early 2000s. From there, the band seamlessly played into a more recent hit, "Shotgun Rider."

Unlike McGraw's last show in Fargo, when he and Faith Hill came as a duo, the fair's show had no high-tech laser shows. Instead, McGraw performed in front of his band, flanked by two livestreaming big screen TVs.

But with the lighting of a rose gold North Dakota sunset slipping behind the stage and a crisp sound carried by a light wind, there was no need for additional showiness.

As McGraw slowly began to wind up for the finish, the crowd followed suit, getting into some of his biggest hits of "I Like It, I Love It," which brought even those seated in the grandstand to their feet where they stayed for the very popular songs such as "Live Like You Were Dying" and, finally, "Humble and Kind" which brought the crowd's lighters and cell phones alive.

The nearly two-hour performance was capped off with fireworks as a satisfied crowd made their way back to the Midway, which will be open as the Red River Valley Fair continues through July 17.

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Country star Tim McGraw performs at the Red River Valley Fair in West Fargo on Saturday, July 9, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
READ MORE FROM WEST FARGO EDITOR WENDY REUER
Chippewa Downs and the North Dakota Horse Park will consider swapping season months after officials from both parks agreed the timing would be better for them.

Readers can reach West Fargo editor Wendy Reuer at wreuer@forumcomm.com or 701-241-5530 . Follow her on Twitter @ForumWendy .

As the West Fargo editor, Wendy Reuer covers all things West Fargo for The Forum and oversees the production of the weekly Pioneer.
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