By July 11, 2017 Read More →

Jamboree in the Hills kicks off Thursday

Staff reports

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register

MORRISTOWN, Ohio — It’s hard to believe that a small country music festival held in 1977 led to Belmont County becoming a destination for thousands of country fans, but year after year they keep coming back to the area for Jamboree in the Hills.

Jamboree in the Hills doesn’t officially begin until Thursday, but campers already are rolling through the gates to claim a spot for the 2017 event. The annual music festival draws thousands of fans to the area for four days of music and entertainment.
(Photo by Jennifer Compston-Strough)

“Jambo,” as many fans call the concert, is the annual four-day country music festival that occurs the third weekend of each July at a large outdoor venue near Morristown. It has become a summer tradition for many festival-goers, featuring some of the biggest names in country music in both the past and present. The 2017 lineup include such names as Sawyer Brown, Chris Young, Lady Antebellum, Lee Greenwood and many more.

Multiple stages are set up on site and are equipped with multiple speakers and Jumbotron screens, so even fans who aren’t right by the stage will be able to hear and enjoy their favorite singers and artists.

In order to claim that perfect spot for watching the show, each morning, hundreds of fans line up with coolers and blankets.

When the gates open, they stampede toward the stage in search of the best spot to set up their lawn chairs or tents in an event that has been dubbed the “Redneck Run.”

The festival attracts a large number of campers who take up residence on the grounds for the duration, with about 2,500 on-site primitive camping spaces available. Many campers were already in place Monday.

The festival has a positive impact on the various businesses in Belmont County, many of whom welcome Jambo attendees with open arms.

Attendees visit local supermarkets such as Kroger, Riesbeck’s, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and others, buying large amounts of snacks, alcoholic beverages, ice and other essentials.

Hungry attendees pay visits to area restaurants, and those who don’t want to stay on site or at the nearby campgrounds often find a room at one of the several hotels in the immediate area. This year, Jamboree officials reserved room blocks for that purpose.

Jamboree in the Hills almost turned out very differently this year. In December, the company that organizes Jamboree, Live Nation, announced on its website that it was changing the name of the event to Jambo Country, eliminating the Sunday portion of the festival and banning attendees from bringing in their own alcohol or coolers, which would force them to buy their beverages inside the venue. The planned changes by Live Nation were met with immediate backlash from the public, with many fans threatening to boycott the 2017 festival. The response led to Live Nation reversing its decisions only a few days later, allowing attendees to experience the same type of Jamboree in the Hills they had come to know and love.

The first of two pre-parties begins at 8 p.m. today, featuring the 1170 band inside the venue. A Wednesday pre-party begins at 7 p.m. and will welcome Neal McCoy at 9 p.m.

The main show starts Thursday, with opening ceremonies taking place at 3:45 p.m. New this year is the “Jambo After Dark” series of events that include afternoon contests and additional entertainment after the close of the main stage on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, all in the Jambo lower B campground.

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