FORT LORAMIE — You know you’re doing something right when thousands of people show up each July to share three days of country music and take part in one of the Miami Valley’s longest summer traditions. But every now and then it’s nice to get a pat on the back from your peers.
Mike and Mary Jo Barhorst got that — and then some — with a little help from an old friend.
The founders of the annual Country Concert in Fort Loramie received the International Entertainment Buyers Association Industry Achievement Award Oct. 13 at the IEBA annual conference and awards ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee.
Four-time Grammy nominee Trace Adkins — who has performed six different times at Country Concert — presented the award to the Barhorsts, who started the country music festival 35 years ago as a way to thank seasonal campers at the Hickory Hill Lakes campground and to celebrate their own anniversary.
“It’s brought back a lot of good memories,” Paul Barhorst said after seeing his parents receive the award from Adkins. “There are very few events like this that are family owned for 35 years. It’s something that we all share in.”
Although it started small, the concert didn’t stay that way for long and has become one of the largest summer music events in the area with thousands of fans converging on the 500-acre facility for three days of music, camping, food and fun.
Stars ranging from Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn to Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Carrie Underwood and Florida Georgia Line have shared the spotlight at Country Concert, with another star-studded lineup planned for 2016.
The event has had a financial impact on the area as well. Numerous charitable/nonprofit organizations benefit each year, while the concert pumps up to $15 million into the region’s economy, according to the Sidney Shelby County Chamber of Commerce.
Paul Barhorst said it was nice to see his parents and the concert recognized by the IEBA – a non-profit trade organization comprised of entertainment industry professionals.
“I think it says that we’re recognized as a place that the artists want to play and a place that the fans want to come back to … and whether you’re an entertainer or a fan, you’re treated well and want to come back to Fort Loramie,” he said. “It’s very rewarding to see more and more people come and enjoy it and see some of the plans that are made years in advance come to reality. We just want to keep raising the bar for the facility and the entire event.”
This year’s Country concert is set for July 7-9 at the 500-acre campground. For ticket information or to learn more about this year’s performers, go to countryconcert.com.
Reach Jim Davis at email@example.com.