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Country Concert kicks off today

The 34th annual Country Concert is set to begin this evening at Hickory Hill Lakes in Fort Loramie.

The three-day festival, scheduled for July 10-12, will feature some of today’s biggest country music acts, including Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan and The Florida Georgia Line. At least 20,000 people are expected to be in attendance each day, Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart said, adding that the concert generated more than $14 million for the local economy last year.

This year organizers made several changes to the facilities — located at Hickory Hills Lakes, 7103 Ohio 55, Ft. Loramie — in an effort to make the experience more enjoyable for fans. A larger crowd is expected to attend, and as a result “we invested in a new driveway entrance, so there is going to be easier access to the property,” General Manager Paul Barhost said. They’ve also built permanent roads to make it easier for fans to get around the facility, and added 10 ticket windows that will be located at the concert gates.

Finally, organizers expanded the parking and camping areas, and dropped the price to $6.

To ensure safety, more than 300 police officers, medics and fire crews will be on hand, Lenhart said. The sheriff, who has attended every Country Concert the past three decades, said there’s rarely any problems. But they opted to have a large safety crew on hand as a precaution.

Last year the weather was a challenge, and fans and performers took cover under a tent that didn’t guard well against the elements. But this year organizers replaced it with a building that can hold a large number of people and withstand inclement weather, Barhost said.

The first 5,000 people to arrive will receive a gold circle wristband and will be seated behind the stage front seats. It’s a tradition organizers started several years ago to reward for arriving early, he said.

Food and beverages will be available for sale, but fans have the option of bringing their own. And those plan to drink are encourage to have a designated driver.

“If you have never come to the Country Concert, this is a great year to try it,” Barhost said. “It’s basically like a family reunion for us and the fans.”

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