What began as a small music festival in the hills of Eastern Ohio in the mid-1970s has evolved into one of the premiere stops on the country music circuit.
Jamboree in the Hills opens its four-day run Thursday in Morristown. It's an annual event that attracts tens of thousands of music fans from across the United States and Canada to Eastern Ohio.
It's big entertainment, and big business, with fans of all ages and from all backgrounds all dressed down in cut-off shorts, T-shirts and tank tops, enjoying a cold beverage as they sit back and listen to the music of today's top country acts.
Area businesses get a boost from the more than 100,000 fans who will participate in the event. Hotel rooms are hot commodities in our region, and businesses from restaurants to convenience stores to department stores to gasoline stations can expect to see added traffic.
All of that's important, but Jamboree in the Hills remains all about the music, and that's what continues to make it work. For an event to remain a success for more than 30 years, it has to be willing to evolve. The 1977 lineup, for example, featured country standards Tom T. Hall, Charlie Rich and Barbara Mandrell, as well as music icon Johnny Cash. This year's lineup will include local favorites Joe Zelek and Ron Retzer as well as the Charlie Daniels Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lorrie Morgan, Neal McCoy and Rascal Flats.
Other outdoor country music festivals have come and gone since the mid-1970s, but Jamboree in the Hills continues to thrive, and that's a testament to the music -and the fans.
The four-day event has become a summer tradition, one that's good for those who appreciate contemporary country music and good for the region's economy.