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Billy Ray Cyrus concert highlights country music weekend in Ashland

ASHLAND, Ky. - Billy Ray Cyrus may not know where he is going to live when he gets home, but at least he knows he will be welcomed home by a sold out crowd at the Paramount Performing Arts Center.

This weekend, the Ashland Area Convention and Visitors Bureau will present several music-related activities that will lead to a performance by Cyrus, the Flatwoods, Ky., native, at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Sue Dowdy of the bureau said that this is part of a summer-long project built along the U.S. 23 Country Music Highway.

"If it happens in Ashland, it's good for everyone in the area," she said.

When out-of-towners visit Ashland, chances are those visitors will also support businesses in Ironton and Huntington, W.Va., as well, Dowdy said. With Cyrus fans in town, those fans will want to visit his hometown in Flatwoods as well as his former home in Ironton and the Huntington bars in which he played as a budding musician.

"Billy's definitely a Tri-State guy," Dowdy said.

The weekend events kick off Friday with country artists EK Station performing from noon to 1 p.m. on the Judd Plaza. From 5:30-7:30 p.m., Gospel group New Vision will perform. At 7 p.m. in the Marquee Room at Paramount, classic rock artists Robert Babb, Ten-Cent Martini and Everwheel will perform.

At

1 p.m. Saturday, the Tri-State Country Music Talent Search for aspiring starts age 15 and younger comes to the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center. The winner will receive a trophy and an invitation to sing later that day at "Achy Breaky Day" on Judd Plaza from 1-6 p.m. and the "Highway 23 Street Jamboree" on Sept. 20, which will be a part of Poage Landing Days. Those interested in entering may call the museum at (606) 329-8888. A second talent search for singers 16 and older will take place Aug. 16.

"Achy Breaky Day" features local artists for an afternoon of country music on the day of the Cyrus performance. Artists performing include Roger Smith, Stephen Salyers, Louie McNeal, Larry Pancake and the Southern Pride Band, Rob McNurlin, Eddie Riffe and the winner of the talent search. An "Achy Breaky" dance contest is also planned, as well as an appearance by Sig and Joy, who operate the Internet site for fans of Cyrus' backup band Slydog.

With the exception of the Cyrus performance, all events are free, Dowdy said.

4Also this weekend, the Lawrence County Bicentennial Bell Tour will make its way through the county, beginning with a pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. Saturday and ending with the bell’s arrival at the Lawrence County Courthouse at 5 p.m. Sunday.