Jamboree features new stage with more space for stars, fans

Scott Swanson

For most veteran Oregon Jamboree participants, the most striking feature of this year’s festival will likely be the new stage, which is much larger than the stages used in the past.

The stage will be set further east, toward 18th Avenue and that relocation opens up space for a bigger crowd – about 5,000 more people, for a maximum of about 20,000, said Event Director Erin Regrutto. Right now, she is anticipating a record-setting year with attendance possibly reaching as high as 18,000.

“Because of the size of the stage, we had to adjust the backstage,” said Teresa Stas, marketing and sales manager. The Jamboree had to move Campground 5, which was between the backstage and 18th Avenue, onto the infield of the track at Husky Field to make room.

“I think the average patron won’t notice the field changes too much,” Stas said. “It’s laid out basically the same way.”

The stage is much larger, Stas said. “It will be an impact. When people walk in, people will know.”

The entire reserved seating area will be in front of the stage now, Stas said. In recent years, artists have had wider sets, and the new stage will accommodate those sets and still provide room for equipment and crews to work.

The 2014 Jamboree features headliners Miranda Lambert on Friday night, Tim McGraw on Saturday night and Billy Currington Sunday evening, with headline-caliber Jake Owen opening for McGraw on Saturday.

Lambert released her latest album, “Platinum” on June 3.

“The last couple of months she’s been on the cover of several magazines at the same time,” Stas said. “She’s huge. We have a ton of positive response for her. She’s been a huge draw.

“Jake Owen is a headliner in his own right. To have him open for Tim McGraw is huge.”

Owen most recently hit No. 1 for the fifth time with “Beachin’” from his fourth album, “Days of Gold.”

McGraw, a prolific country music legend, brings to Sweet Home a long string of hits, 25 reaching No. 1, from a career-spanning 13 studio albums, 11 debuting at No. 1 on the albums chart. His next album, “Sundown Heaven Town,” is set for release on Sept. 16.

Currington hit No. 1 twice in 2010, followed by a string of four charting singles, including the number-five “Hey Girl” in 2013.

Other acts include Justin Moore who has had hits and been gaining recognition, Stas said. Cassadee Pope won “The Voice” in fall 2012 and a member of Blake Shelton’s team.

Joe Diffee and John Michael Montgomery are country music veterans, while the Eli Young Band has been steady with several hits, Stas said. Almost all of the stars in the lineup this year have won country music awards.

“It’s probably one of our best lineups, as far as star power at one time,” Stas said.

Regrutto agrees. “We’re very rarely given the opportunity to offer a lineup like this. We’re looking great.”

The Oregon Jamboree begins with a kickoff party in the Safeway parking lot, 1540 Main St., on Thursday. The Promo Team is offering all kinds of prizes throughout the weekend, beginning at the kickoff party, which starts at 5 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m.

This week, local businesses are participating in a window decorating contest. The public may vote for their favorites using ballots available at the kickoff party and on the Jamboree grounds.

Promo Team prizes include tickets the Crown Royal Deck, which allows fans to watch a show from above the stage; tickets; merchandise; Sweet Spot passes; and more.

Immediately following the kickoff party is a special appearance by Jamboree veteran Cloverdayle at 8 p.m. at the Sweet Home Elks Lodge, 440 Osage St. The cost is $10 at the door. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. All proceeds from the event go to the Sweet Home Auditorium Remodel Committee, which is repairing and improving the Sweet Home High School Auditorium.

At noon on Friday, Jamboree performer Austin Webb will play an acoustic set at a barbecue lunch and auction. Admission is $60, which includes two adult beverages, a commemorative reception poster and a reception gift as well as the opportunity to bid on fan Oregon Jamboree VIP package and area high school and sports packages. All proceeds benefit the Sweet Home Community Foundation, which provides grants to local charity projects. No Jamboree ticket is needed to attend the event.

Jamboree gates open at 1:30 with Blackjack Billy firing things up for the festival at 3 p.m.

Across Ames Creek and the Weddle Bridge from the main Jamboree grounds, the Kid Zone is back, and “the second stage is going to be full of entertainment the entire time,” Stas said. Among performances there will be Webb, Blackjack Billy, Jackson Michelson and Sweet Home’s Trevor Tagle.

Sunday is volunteer appreciation day, Stas said. Sponsored by Northwest Natural, the Jamboree is planning to celebrate, with prizes, the 950 volunteers it takes to run the annual festival.

The Oregon Jamboree is owned and operated by the Sweet Home Economic Development Group to raise money to fund economic development projects. It supports directly and indirectly a variety of community efforts, programs and projects.

The festival will cost more this year, Regrutto said, but that spending, especially on talent, drives attendance, which drives revenue during the event.

“And we’re able to continue supporting the community groups that are so important to us,” Regrutto said, including the Sweet Home Active Revitalization Effort, School District 55 and its programs as well as many others through the Sweet Home Community Foundation.

For more information about the Jamboree or events around the Jamboree, call the Oregon Jamboree at (541) 367-8800.