FORT LORAMIE – Country Concert (CC) 22 starts next week on July 6, and new and returning fans all have a unique story to tell about their experiences and what they are looking forward to during the long weekend event.
The Sidney Daily News asked fans to tell their stories on a Facebook page called Country Concert Fan Group which was started last year and now has over 11,000 members, and responses were gathered from people who live all over the country, from New York to Oklahoma. The responses mentioned being excited to meet new people, gathering with friends and family, and enjoying the dozens of artists performing, to name a few.
“Country Concert has always been an annual vacation that I plan with friends. We look forward to it each and every year… It is a wonderful thing that thousands of us can get together and enjoy music that we all love,” said Nick Cooper, who has been attending CC since 2013 and is from Columbia Station.
Vickie Given, who has attended CC for 30 years and is from Sidney, mentioned her daughter, Leslie, and the excitement she feels seeing everyone she knows from the event every year.
“She loves seeing all her friends from far and near. She’s in a wheelchair. It takes 30 minutes or more to just get to our seats coming and going as all friends have to say hi,” Given said.
Some parents attend CC with their children, and their children continue the tradition when they become adults.
“I have been periodically going to Country Concert since I was 5, about 2006,” said Luke Geise, from Fort Loramie. “My mom has been to every single Country Concert… even before it was called Country Concert. She grew up about a mile from main stage.”
“My husband and I have been going 25 years together and now our kids are over 21 and attend with us!” said Christi Finder-Koogler, from Dayton.
There will also be volunteers working at the event that come from various non-profit organizations to which CC makes donations every year. The VALOR Clinic Foundation and the Shelby County Relay for Life are two organizations that will be represented.
“I am most excited about volunteering at the gates with our organization VALOR Clinic Foundation – and always excited about the fact that the Barhorst family & CC makes generous donations each year to many non-profit organizations, including my group that is there helping to raise funds for homeless veterans in Ohio!” said Nancy Bullock, who has been attending CC since 2018 and is from east of Columbus.
Major life events have also happened at and because of CC, like meeting a soulmate, celebrating wedding anniversaries, and taking wedding pictures at the venue.
“My husband and I celebrate our anniversary at Country Concert (July 9),” said Lisa Smith-Balcom, who will be attending CC for the second year and is from Silver Creek, New York.
Kim Keck, who has been going to CC for over 25 years and is from Wolcottville, Indiana, started bringing her son to the event when he was 14, and he met a woman from Canada who he eventually married. They have a two-year-old son named Gentry, who was named after Montgomery Gentry, a performer at CC the year the couple met. They also recently took some wedding pictures at the concert venue.
Every year, known and lesser-known artists get a chance to perform for thousands, and some lesser-known individuals become more popular as a result. Fans mentioned that they are excited to see the headliners – Carrie Underwood, Brooks & Dunn and Morgan Wallen – but also ERNEST, HARDY, John Michael Montgomery and Sawyer Brown.
“Each year there is always one performer I am most excited to see and this year it is John Michael Montgomery. He is one of the artists that got me listening to country music as a kid!” said Heather Nash Dumire, who has been attending CC for 16 years and is from Defiance.
Country Concert is not only important to fans, but it is also important to Shelby County’s economy. According to Jeff Raible, the president of the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, over $17 million will be spent by the over 78,000 people attending this year’s concert on hotel rooms, meals, concert tickets and refreshments.
“Without question, Country Concert is an economic engine for Shelby County, however, we view this event as an opportunity to showcase the lifestyle of our fine community as well,” Raible said. “It’s important that we put our best foot forward and present this area as a desirable place to live, to work, and to have fun. We want those visiting to enjoy their stay, come back, and even consider a relocation here from their current home.”