Campers arrive for Jamboree in the Hills

MORRISTOWN – It’s two days before the opening ceremonies of Jamboree in the Hills, and campers and officials are getting their last-minute checklists crossed off.

Campgrounds opened up this past weekend, and campers and country music fans began pouring in from all corners of the country – and in some cases, even outside of it.

This year’s lineup showcases some of the biggest country musicians, such as Toby Keith, Luke Bryan, Trace Adkins, Florida Georgia Line, Miranda Lambert, and a crowd favorite Neal McCoy, who traditionally finds a new structure to climb each year.

The country music festival, which began with just two days in the hot summer July of 1977, has now grown to become the Superbowl of Country Music and a yearly staple of the Ohio Valley. Each year people flow into Morristown, usually a quiet village of a modest 350 residents, which swells to the 100,000 range during the now four-day event.

For those like Scott Hall-Jones, the operations director of Jamboree in the Hills, it has been a busy week already.

“Obviously the weather has played a big role in some of our preparation work. The rain held us back getting our pre-camping area cleared out and ready to go, but everything has come together nicely as its dried up,” Hall-Jones pointed out.

“Other than that, things are just as they have been the past few years. No major changes that might drastically affect any of the fans. We’re really just looking forward to another great and safe year for everyone.” he continued.

Across the street at Valley View Campgrounds, campers are already set up and anxiously awaiting everyone else to arrive to join in on the fun. One of Valley View’s owners, Tom Gentile, shared his frustrations with the pesky weather of the last several days.

“It’s been a real challenging year getting ready since it didn’t stop raining up until a couple days ago, but we’re ready to go,” he said.

One of the few changes Valley View underwent this year was moving the waiting areas for campers before the gates opened. Campers were lined up and housed at the Belmont County Fairgrounds.

“The fair board was able to raise some money, and it of course helped us out. The early campers had a nice flat space and it really turned out well for all involved.” added Gentile.

He said that while they have not had many problems over the past few years, they have beefed up security a touch.