Jambo – Er, Jamboree – Returns

The Jamboree in the Hills, a 40-year tradition in Belmont, Ohio, breathlessly announced several changes – including a new name and alcohol restrictions. Fans weren’t happy, and many changes have disappeared.  

– Jamboree In The Hills

The four-day country music event draws 100,000 people to the Ohio city and is by all accounts beloved by the community. Live Nation recently tweaked the event, changing the name to “Jambo Country,” a nickname coined by fans, renaming a traditional event where people find a good spot on the lawn in the morning from “The Redneck Run” to “The Morning Run,” instituted some restrictions on alcohol on the premises and eliminated the traditional Sunday performance.

Also, for security and to lessen underage drinking concerns, coolers would be disallowed for the first time at the July 13-15 event.

Well, it didn’t go over very well, and not just the part about booze.

It was one thing when fans expressed their intense disagreement on social media for the name change, alcohol policies and even the sanitized term “morning run,” but it was another when Belmont County Commissioner Matt Coffland appeared at a board meeting in a cowboy hat and dragging a cooler in protest.

“A lot of businesses live on sales that they (get) in the month of July for that event,” Coffland said, noting that, without coolers, people would be paying festival prices for alcohol. “I just think they’ve taken something that’s been a tradition and they’ve absolutely just kicked it in the teeth.”

The ban on alcohol was a security concern, according to Live Nation, but Coffland disagreed, illustrating what the experience would be like for those who have to go through security, seeing their cooler opened and searched, and witnessing a vodka-filled water bottle emptied in full view of the patron.

“I think that some corporate people made a decision without even understanding,” he said, according to the Times Leader. For good measure, he threw in the point that Live Nation had asked the county for $10,000 to help promote the event.

Everything changed – or changed back – Dec. 9.

“Jambo fans have spoken and we listened!” Live Nation announced in a press release, with a splashy “Jamboree In The Hills 2017” logo beneath.

“Much-loved country music festival will continue with original name, 4 big days of music, the ‘Redneck Run’ and bring your own cooler!”

The announcement rescinded the four main changes, even throwing in a Sunday event. The entire controversy lasted less than a week. New to the (now July 13-16) event, which will be headlined by Thomas Rhett, Jason Aldean, and Lady Antebellum, are glamping packages called “Jambo-Glamp,” campsites with electric hookups, a free Wednesday night concert, and free showers for all onsite campers.

“Our Jambo fans are some of the most loyal and fun-loving music fans in the country, (and) we want to make sure they have a terrific time at the festival and come back year after year,” GM Kelly Tucker-Jones said in a statement.