MORRISTOWN - Booming thunder couldn't drown out the country music blasting from the Jamboree in the Hills stage Thursday, and the accompanying lightning didn't frighten the crowd away as the event kicked off its 36th year.
Dark clouds engulfed the area just after opening act the Stickers left the stage. The ominous haze stuck around during sets by the Cadillac Three and Will Hoge, but no rain fell on the venue.
By the time crowd favorite Chris Young hit the stage at 6:30 p.m., the clouds had given way to sun and summer heat. Thursday night's headliners Dwight Yoakam and Miranda Lambert kept the energy level high to close out the evening.
JAMBOREE IN THE HILLS KICKS OFF — Country superstar Miranda Lambert performed during the first day of Jamboree in the Hills 2013 on Thursday. Other tops acts included Chris Young and Dwight Yoakam. — Fred Rossano
Officials on Thursday night said there were no major incidents reported to sheriff's deputies who were patrolling the site.
The heat is expected to continue today with a risk of scattered showers and storms.
Officials also anticipate a near capacity crowd today. The entertainment lineup begins at 4:15 p.m. with Ruff Creek performing, followed by Davisson Brothers Band, Florida Georgia Line, Thompson Square and Luke Bryan. Saturday's lineup kicks off at 11:25 a.m. with Ron Retzer with 11/70, followed by the Joseph Sisters, Raven Cliff, Hillbilly Way, Rust Belt Kings, Jason Thomas, Chris Janson, the Hennigsens, Kip Moore, Trace Adkins and Toby Keith. The Sunday lineup begins at 11 a.m. with Matt Van Fossen, followed by Aaron Tippin, the Oak Ridge Boys, Sammy Kershaw and Neal McCoy.