Ready for Jamboree weekend?

Benny Westcott

After a concert-less 2020 and a smaller-than-typical turnout during a pandemic-plagued 2021, the 30th annual Oregon Jamboree, set for July 29-31, returns to business as usual this year, with some added new features to boot.

Jamboree Executive Director Robert Shamek said that last year’s event saw about 10,000 people per day, while this year he’s hoping for 16,000 to 18,000.

(The weather should be super-cooperative, according to the National Weather Service, which expects average highs in the 90s through the weekend.)

“We’re selling tickets like mad right now,” he said, adding that both reserve and premiere seats are sold out.

The Jamboree has about 2,500 campsites this year, almost 2,400 of which were filled as of last week.

The free-to-the public kick-off party event on Thursday, July 28 will be back for the first time since 2019, headlined by King Calaway at 8 p.m. Music starts at 4 p.m. at the main gate. Artisan Alley will be back in Sankey Park as well for the first time since 2019, featuring 18 craft vendors.

“I think everybody’s pretty pumped about having a full-blown Jamboree again,” Shamek said. “With this being our 30th anniversary, people are really excited, especially with the amount of amazing talent we have this year.”

The Jamboree will feature the biggest stage ever at Sankey Park in the form of the Deschutes Brewery Park Stage, which will host headliners Colt Ford, Whitey Morgan and Travis Denning.

“I think bringing in a stage that will accommodate bigger artists is probably one of the coolest things that we’ve ever done over there in Sankey Park,” Shamek said. “The city has put so much money into Sankey Park, along with all the match funds from people within the city. So, to kind of showcase that, we decided to do something a little bigger and bring some bigger names in there, and maybe draw a few more people over to the area, so they can really enjoy what we’ve enjoyed every day. It’s going to be a very fun-filled event for sure.”

Also new this year will be a line- and swing-dance contest. The organization has been hosting qualifiers across Oregon and Washington for what it is dubbing the Pacific Northwest Stompede. The winners from those contests will compete at this weekend’s event.

“It will be fun and entertaining, and something a little different,” Shamek said. “Line- and swing-dancing has made a huge comeback. We did it at Music & Brews [in April] and it was a lot of fun, so we decided to try it at some different bars throughout the area, and it really just blew up.”

A promotional stage hosting giveaways will be erected by the Weddle Bridge Beer Garden area, and a sponsor hospitality area near the main stage will be impressive.

“Our sponsors have stepped up above and beyond, which is just incredible,” Shamek said. “I can’t wait for people to see our sponsor hospitality area, because it’s literally something you’d see at Stagecoach [a country music festival in Indio, Calif.] or something.”

He noted that two big 2023 headliner announcements will be made on Friday night, before Miranda Lambert performs. “It’s always fun to do announcements at the Jamboree,” he said.

Additionally, for the first time ever, the Jamboree is hosting a 10 a.m. Sunday, July 31, concert at the Community Chapel with Christian musician Austin French and his full band, who will also be performing that day on the Deschutes Stage.

“We have a great partnership with the Community Chapel, and it’s something that we worked out to help them host one of the best gospel concerts of the entire year,” Shamek said.

Overall, he’s excited about the music.

“I think our lineup this year is just incredible,” he said. “[Friday headliner] Miranda Lambert’s newest album [‘Palomino,’ released in April] is incredible, so I’m super-excited to see her,” he said.

Shamek noted that Saturday headliner Trace Adkins stars in an upcoming drama television series, “Monarch,” about a country-music family. The show is set to premiere Sunday, Sept. 11, on FOX, following an NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.

“Trace has got some really good momentum behind him right now, especially with this new series,” he said.

He added that Sunday headliner Old Dominion “has been incredible every time they’ve been here.”

Apart from that, Shamek said, “I’m a huge Colt Ford fan, and we’ve never had him or Whitey Morgan here, so to have them headline the Deschutes Stage in Sankey Park, I think that’s going to be pretty unique.”

He said that Homefree, an a cappella group, is one of the Jamboree’s most highly requested groups ever.

“We’ve got a lot of stuff going on,” he concluded. “It’s exciting, it’s fun, and it’s nice to be back to normal.”

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