Jamboree in the Hills
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|Jamboree in The Hills|
|Dates||3rd week of July (Thursday-Sunday)|
|Location(s)||Brush Run Park, St. Clairsville, Ohio (1977-89)|
The Barn Stage, Plainfield, Belmont County, Ohio (1990-present)
|Founded by||Glenn Reeves and Jerry Brightman|
|Attendance||est. 100,000 annually|
Jamboree in the Hills was an annual festival of country music in Morristown, Ohio (about 1½ hours west of Pittsburgh, and 20 minutes west of Wheeling, West Virginia) in Belmont County, Ohio until Live Nation officially canceled it on November 7th, 2018. The concert, owned by Live Nation, showcased a wide variety of new, veteran, and legendary musicians.
The program is a spin-off of the WWVA Jamboree. However, it does not share any affiliation with the current incarnation of the Wheeling Jamboree, which is currently off-air. (For a time, Live Nation and WWVA were both owned by Clear Channel Communications, but Live Nation was spun off from Clear Channel shortly before WWVA cancelled the Jamboree, ending the relationship between the two parties.)
History and tradition
Jamboree in the Hills (often abbreviated as JITH or referred to as "Jambo" ) began as a modest two-day outdoor music festival on July 16th, 1977 and was held at Brush Run Park, St. Clairsville, Ohio. It was the concept of Glenn Reeves along with Jerry Brightman that brought it to fruition. It has since grown to a full four-day, annual festival, bringing in more than 100,000 in combined attendance for all 4 days each year. Fans from all over the United States, Canada and many other areas of the world, pitch tents and park campers all around the amphitheater and all through the immediate region, filling campgrounds, front yards, and backyards alike, hauling wagons loaded with lawn chairs, snacks, bottled water, beer, and plenty of ice.
The current outdoor amphitheater (the second site for the concert since 1977 ) is currently enhanced by several speaker towers and Jumbotron TV screens, so even the fans at the top of the rolling hill can easily enjoy the show. Jamboree in the Hills is one of the largest and most celebrated annual country music events. The concert range is so large that it is home to its very own post office and on-site emergency ward staffed by East Ohio Regional Hospital that has, in the past, even delivered babies on the grounds.
The site is even host to a number of weddings each year. There is a photo aisle in front of the stage where fans can walk through and take snapshots of their favorite country music artists. In 2006, the barn-like stage used to showcase performers underwent a massive face lift. It was completely torn down and replaced with a bigger stage to better suit the hillside amphitheater. There is also an area on site where fireworks are shot off on a given night during the concert (traditionally, Saturday).
Normally country music stars are the main focus of the concert, but entertainers from other genres have also shared the stage over the years, including Kid Rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, 38 Special, "Weird Al" Yankovic, The Beach Boys and the Steve Miller Band. The entire event has been carried on Wheeling radio stations 1170 WWVA and/or 98.7 WOVK, every year since its inception, having originally grown out of WWVA's live Jamboree radio show. The show was simulcast on both stations for many years, but WOVK is now the sole radio home for the JITH broadcast. Portions of the show are also covered live on local TV station WTOV, aside from a few performers, generally due to contractual agreements, who decline to go on air (usually only one or two each year, mainly Headlining acts). In 2009, only two days of the festival were broadcast locally.
Past performers include Alan Jackson, Barbara Mandrell, Brad Paisley, Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, Sammy Kershaw, Travis Tritt, Alabama, Kenny Chesney, The Charlie Daniels Band, Dierks Bentley, Martina McBride, Toby Keith, Keith Urban, Hank Williams, Jr., Johnny Cash, Tim McGraw, Randy Travis, Montgomery Gentry, Taylor Swift, The Oak Ridge Boys, Willie Nelson, Jason Aldean, Faith Hill, Florida Georgia Line, Brooks & Dunn, Merle Haggard and Neal McCoy. For the past 19 years in a row Neal McCoy has become a fan favorite and has even been dubbed as Jamboree's favorite.
Jamboree in the Hills Theme Song
Originally penned in 1978 by Mayf Nutter, the "Jamboree in the Hills" theme song is proudly played annually at the festival. The lyrics to the song describe the first Jamboree In The Hills and the excitement that surrounded the event.
More recently a new song (with the same name), "Jamboree in the Hills" by Joe Zelek (from the surrounding area Town of Mt. Pleasant, OH ) has been played throughout the event as an overall experience tune; clips from this version are used in radio advertising for the event.
The Redneck Run
There are only a few seating arrangements or assigned places at the Jamboree site. Each morning during the event, hundreds of country music fans line up, and when instructed to go, stampede through the gate with their tarps and try to get their desired spot inside the Venue. This is often a muddy and chaotic event and has been dubbed over the years as "The Redneck Run." The "Redneck Run" has even appeared on a segment of the "Today Show" on NBC.