SPECIAL REPORT: A Look Back at the History of Jamboree in the H - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

SPECIAL REPORT: A Look Back at the History of Jamboree in the Hills

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“Just all of the people and the party. Women, it has to be the women.  Definitely, women and the music. The sun, it's beautiful. Fun, the people, the music, I love it.”   

These were just some of the comments from 'Jambo'-goers from the early 1990s.

The summer of 1977 is when the field at Brush Run Park filled with nearly 30,000 country music fans from the Ohio Valley, listening to performances from artists like Mickey Gilley, Tammy Wynette, and Johnny Cash during the first Jamboree in the Hills.

Over the last 36 years, Jamboree In the Hills has grown be to become one of the most well-known country music festivals in the nation.

Chuck Newell of St.Clairsville has been around, since the beginning. “I used to work security back then and people used to hide under back seats to try and get in, and used to hide in their pick-up trucks, put their furniture in there and hide under their coolers,” said Newell.

More than 100,000 people from all over the country flock to the hills of Belmont County to the new venue - open since the 80's, but folks who have been attending the event since the beginning - reflect on memories from the concerts of yesteryear.

Jane Graves of Akron, Ohio recalls concerts from her past, “We used to setup those old dining canopies with the poles and the strings and everything, so you tripped over them all day long and they fell down all day long,” said Graves.

Ron Retzer of the 1170 Band can recall the smaller crowds, “Back in '83 there was probably 25 - 30,000 people that would come to the event,” said Retzer.

No matter where the concert is held, party=goers have a good time dancing to the music of some of their favorite performers. Members of the 1170 band, like Ron Retzer and Roger Hoard, have been performing Jamboree in the Hills since the early days. They say moving locations has helped the 4-day concert to grow.

“Buying the new grounds and making it in to this huge event that it is today,” said Ron Retzer, of the 1170 Band.

Retzer’s band-mate Roger Hoard agreed, “A bigger venue, there's more lighting and sound and with the bigger crowd, you've got more people having a good time,” said Hoard.

During Jamboree in the Hill 1990, concert goers swarmed our D.K. Wright and douse her with water from all directions. “The water guns were the main event. Some were hi-tech, like repeating riffles connected to tanks mounted on people's backs. These water warriors seemed to be particularly challenged by a person in dry clothes, or a moving target,” said Wright in a report from the 1990 concert.

The concert, only two days in length during it's infancy, and camping was not as convenient as it is today. “Reba McEntire closed the show on Saturday night, we camped over in a field and we hiked a long way to get over to the show,” said Graves.

Memories of Jamboree in the Hills passed as the concert propels into a new era.

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