Parents of tween and young teen girls, have your children sit down before you break this news to them: Raven-Symoné is performing at the Stanislaus County Fair this summer.
Now that you've said it, they're likely either staring at you wide-eyed and slack-jawed or jumping up and down while squealing, "Can we go can we go can we go can we go can we go (pause for breath) can we, pleeeeze?!"
Good luck saying no to that. (And really, if you don't plan on taking them, you'd better not even let them know about the concert, then cross your fingers that they don't learn about it from friends.) Because Raven- Symoné is a Disney Channel superstar. Before there was "Hannah Montana," before there was "High School Musical," there was "That's So Raven," a 2003-07 comedy that remains a hot rerun on the Disney Channel and ABC.
The 22-year-old actress-singer, whose first well-known role was from 1989-92 as little Olivia Kendall on the TV series "The Cosby Show," has a self-titled CD that came out just last week. She also has two earlier solo discs and performed on the gold-certified "That's So Raven" soundtrack and the double-platinum "The Cheetah Girls" soundtrack.
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As an actress, she most recently was on the big screen as Martin Lawrence's daughter in the comedy "College Road Trip."
"This is huge," Stanislaus County Fair spokeswoman Pennie Rorex said of landing Raven-Symoné, who will perform July 31 on the Budweiser Variety Free Stage. "This is the first time we have done a concert specifically aimed at (the preteen and teen) market.
"We're very excited because this concert is on Kids Free Night. Every year, we have a Kids Free Night, and we thought that in this economy, it would be good to schedule this concert on a night when kids 12 and under are already getting in free. It's a perfect match and should make for a perfect family evening."
Raven-Symoné's 8:30 p.m. show, sponsored by radio station KHOP@95-1, is free with fair admission. That's true of all shows on the Variety Free Stage. Last year, the fair stopped charging separate admission for headliner acts, who performed in the larger FoodMaxx Arena.
To accommodate larger crowds at the free stage, the physical stage was expanded and moved back. Additional bench seating was added, and the temporary bleachers in the back were replaced with permanent bleachers. The changes doubled the free stage's seating and standing capacity to about 4,000. Jumbo screens were added to the sides of the stage, too.
The "funky, feisty, smart and reflective" music of Raven-Symoné is just one of many things that should appeal to young fairgoers this year, Rorex said.
Other highlights include a five-day appearance by the Budweiser Clydesdales and the 8,000- square-foot "Jurassic Journey" exhibit, which features 40 full-sized, museum-quality replicas of dinosaurs, ice age mammals and fossils.
Bee assistant features editor Deke Farrow can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2327.