Jamboree: Eyes on the thermometer are optimistic this year

Sean C. Morgan

Oregon Jamboree Festival Director Robert Shamek sums up his excitement for the 2018 Jamboree in two words: “Good weather.”

If forecasters have it right, the Jamboree country music festival may see the coolest temperatures since the event was moved, from mid-September to the beginning of August, in the 1990s.

“I’ve been doing this for 16 years,” said Shamek, who volunteered for more than 10 years before heading up the festival.

He said it hasn’t ever been as cool as the forecast shows, with temperatures in the low 80s through the weekend.

“Yeah, it’s been a little warm for setup, but for the Jamboree, you can’t get better than that.”

The National Weather Service is predicting a high of 81 degrees Thursday, falling from temperatures in the 90s earlier in the week. Other weather services predict highs in the 80s through the end of the weekend.

“Which is unheard of for the Jamboree, at least for me,” Shamek said.

Last year, temperatures reached three digits ,impacting the number of people on the grounds during the day. The Jamboree had moved the concert schedule to later in the day this year in case of the higher temperatures to capitalize on cooler evening temperatures.

“Ticket sales have been great,” Shamek said. “With this weather, I think ticket sales will just skyrocket through the end of this week.”

The Jamboree opens with a thank you to the Sweet Home community Thursday night.

The Kickoff Party, which is a free event, has been expanded, with a three-act lineup running from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on 18th Avenue.

Morgan Evans will headline the event at 8 p.m. Elana Jane opens at 6 p.m., and Brewers Grade plays at 6:30 p.m. Brewers Grade also performs on the main stage Sunday. Brewers Grade and Jane then perform on the Deschutes Brewery Park Stage Sunday. Jamie Lynn Spears had been scheduled but she had to cancel multiple shows. Evans is replacing her in the lineup.

The Kickoff Party is an opportunity for those in the Sweet Home community who are not able to attend the Jamboree to participate.

“My goal is just to involve our community,” Shamek said. “A lot of people don’t attend the Jamboree for one reason or another.”

Some cannot afford it, Shamek said. Others may not like the crowds.

“It’s the first time that just anybody can walk in and buy (Jamboree) merchandise, so that’ll be fun,” Shamek said.

This will be much smaller, in a more intimate setting and extremely family- friendly, Shamek said. Proceeds generated by the event through a raffle and vendor sales will go toward funding the arts in the Sweet Home School District, with proceeds this year to go toward permanent sound equipment in the Sweet Home High School Auditorium.

The Jamboree has provided numerous prizes, including Sweet Spot passes, meet and greet passes and a set of three-day VIP tickets to be raffled during the Kickoff Party. Raffle buyers must be present to win.

SHOCASE, the Sweet Home Oregon Coalition for Arts and Scholastic Enrichment, is working with the Jamboree and School District, and SHOCASE members will sell raffle tickets during the party.

It’s a way to get local art students involved, Shamek said, and he is hoping it will get people out of their trailers and campsites, walking around town. In general, though, the party is geared toward the residents of Sweet Home.

“We’re going to kick the night off with Todd Branson,” Shamek said. Branson has built a large following leading the Pledge of Allegiance each day on his Facebook page. He will lead the Pledge of Allegiance, and the winners of the 2017 and 2018 SHARC Showdown talent contests, Cathy Cheshire, Hannah Wible, Bella Morrison and Moriah Winn, will perform “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“It’s supposed to be for the locals in our community,” Shamek said. “What better way than to involve our locals to kick it off.”

The headliner, Morgan Evans, “Is an up and coming guy out of Australia,” Shamek said, noting that he recently married country singer and Jamboree veteran Kelsea Ballerini. “He’s got a bunch of hits out,” with “Kiss Somebody” reaching 13th on the U.S. Country chart in 2017.

Preparing for the main event this week, “things are coming together quite nicely,” Shamek said. “We’ve got great parnerships from Boulder Falls to Samaritan Health.”

Samaritan will set up and unveil its brand new mobile hospital during the Jamboree, Shamek said.

On stage, probably the biggest thing he keeps hearing is “people are really excited to see Clint Black and Diamond Rio,” Shamek said. “Of course, you’ve got all your Brantley Gilbert fans out there. He puts on a rockin’ party. It’s a rockin’ show for sure.”