Thousands of happy campers — and non-campers — are in Fort Loramie this week for Country Concert 2014. I’ll be there, screaming along with all the other ladies when Luke Bryan shakes his thang.
My first Country Concert was the year I started here at K99.1FM, in 1989. I remember WHIO-TV’s Jim Baldridge flew in on Chopper 7 to introduce Randy Travis at the height of his popularity.
This year, Country Concert features over 22 acts, including superstars Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Florida Georgia Line and Brantley Gilbert. In addition to the entertainers on the main stage and on the Country Concert Saloon Stage, my friend Paul Barhorst has offered, “five things you may not know about Country Concert.”
1. The whole concept began in the late 1970’s as an anniversary party/birthday party for Mike and Mary Jo Barhorst, who were married on Mike’s birthday in 1958. It’s believed to be the largest family owned and operated country music festival in the United States.
2. Fans travel from much farther than the Miami Valley for the three-day event, crossing the country from Washington State to Massachusetts. And this year, Country Concert fans will be attending from beyond our borders with folks from Australia, Sweden, Japan and Canada expected to arrive.
3. Country Concert entertainers have spanned the generations with appearances from Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Kenny Rogers, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Garth Brooks, The Beach Boys and Bill Monroe all gracing the stage at one point. According the Country Concert website, Neal McCoy holds the title of the performer who’s been there most. Counting his appearance Saturday afternoon, McCoy will have been at Country Concert 12 times!
4. The main stage is not the only place to see big-name acts. The Country Concert Saloon Stage has helped launch plenty of superstars including Rodney Atkins (2006), Justin Moore (2009), Tyler Farr (2010), Craig Campbell (2011), Florida Georgia Line (2012) and Chase Rice (2013).
5. When Luke Bryan exits the main stage Saturday night, the next day some 200 area young people from various groups will clean the entire property. In a day and a half, you won’t be able to tell the event ever happened.
And that’s when the folks at Country Concert start planning for 2015.