It was the Country Explosion event at the Sioux Empire Fair where I got my first and only Nitty Gritty Dirt Band live exposure. ‘Twas a fantastic show to which a few thousand others can surely attest.

The year was 1988 and a group of teenage boys got their chores done early to make their way to Sioux Falls for a big package show. Looking back, it’s hard to envision a better lineup for the money involved.

On the docket was an unknown at the time named David Ball, who eventually would carve out a niche in country music to lead off. Next came the Sweethearts of the Rodeo sashaying across the stage.

Two other acts were still to follow, but Highway 101’s Paulette Carlson was under the weather so only three bands would actually cue it up. The group did come out on the stage for a quick visit to show appreciation for their fans who came to see them.

In exchange for that would have been a shortened set plus tear down and setup for a fourth troupe, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band got a little more stage time. Certainly Jimmy had his drums along, Jeffrey, Jimmie and Bobby sang all their favorite songs too. In the heyday of “Fishin’ in the Dark” this band was at the peak of their powers.

As they make their return to Sioux Falls performing at The District, thanks for the NGDB memories.

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