SHEDG expects big Jamboree, preparing new grounds

Scott Swanson

Sweet Home could see a significant crowd at this year’s Oregon Jamboree, Festival Director Robert Shamek told members of the Sweet Home Economic Development Group at its annual meeting Thursday, March 14.

Meanwhile, President Ron Moore said, SHEDG is working toward developing a concert grounds and park on the former Morse Bros. property on the north end of Clark Mill Road.

Several SHEDG members attended the meeting held at Sunshine Industries, in which Moore and Shamek highlighted some of SHEDG’s progress and projects for the year.

Members re-elected Jared Cornell, Michael Hall and Ginny Wood to three-year terms on the board.

Moore, in his president’s report, noted that the board members have reviewed the organization’s mission, vision and core values, which he listed as: hope, professionalism, integrity, progress, stewardship, service and community.

Shamek quoted SHEDG’s current mission statement, which is: “To produce a quality and sustainable country music festival that is a distinct Oregon experience, through innovation and hospitality, creating economic opportunity for the Sweet Home community.”

“It took the board eight hours to come up with that,” he said.

Moore emphasized the importance of collaboration with the community.

“Partnerships are really, really important,” he said, noting that the Jamboree has expanded from “300 to 400 volunteers when I started as president (more than a decade ago) to 1,200 now. Without those volunteers, it would cost us too much to put it on.”

Moore also reviewed the economic benefits of the Jamboree on Sweet Home, reporting that the festival brought some $1.4 million into the community between 2002 and 2013 through ice deliveries, shower rentals, parking, and vending enterprises by local service clubs and nonprofits.

“In the last four years, it’s been almost $700,000,” he said. “We’re still doing well even though we’ve been down at times. We’re still helping those nonprofits.”

Moore cited a 2001 impact study that determined local residents spent $22.57 per day, on average, during the Jamboree weekend, and that visitors spent $65.45. He said he hopes to commission a new study this year.

“It’s important to have these numbers to show the community what’s going on when people come to town, how important it is to our community,” he said.

He noted that this is the festival’s 27th year.

“I know the founders who started this, I don’t know if they dreamed it would be this big, but I know this is what they had in mind. I know a lot of businesses count on the Jamboree.”

Moore displayed a schematic plan for the former Morse Bros. and Knife River property north of Clark Mill Road, showing areas designated as potential sites for an amphitheater, various types of camping, artificial turf athletic fields and other uses.

“This is our dream of what we can have in Sweet Home to put on our event,” he said.

SHEDG is working with the county, the city and other entities to establish access to the 200-plus-acre property, which is critical, he said.

“Our dream is not just to run the Jamboree, but other smaller events as well,” he said, noting that putting in turf fields for baseball, softball and soccer at the Morse Bros. property could benefit the school district, which had to cancel two of his daughter’s softball games this season due to weather impacts on the fields.

“We have a perfect place in Sweet Home where you can watch your kid play softball.”

He said SHEDG has been working with county Parks Director Brian Carroll to develop a plan for the property.

“It’s cool to see where trails go,” he said, noting that the walkways provide river view and access to fishing ponds on the site, which have been reclaimed. “They’re safe.

“Hopefully, this will be a year-round park that will be another addition to Linn County parks that Brian’s done so well with,” Moore said. “Another feather in his cap.”

Shamek said the Jamboree has developed into a “well-oiled machine” after four years of effort since he became director.

“After the last four years I’ve been on, I just feel like a survivor,” he joked. “Thank God we’re the last ones standing.”

The demise of competing events has opened up opportunities for the Jamboree he said, playing a commercial that has been produced for this year’s festival.

The Watershed festival held during the same weekend, Aug. 2-4, as the Jamboree in the Gorge Amphitheater in Washington, is sold out, he said. That means country music fans who didn’t get tickets may turn their attention to the Jamboree, which shares three artists in its lineup – the Brothers Osborne, Chris Young and Mitchell Tenpenny.

“We’re going to start pushing it,” he said. “We’re going to push it really hard this year.

“We’ll see a big influx of people. I smile every single day. To be honest, I haven’t done that in the last three years.”

He said the Kickoff Party on the Thursday evening before Jamboree will be bigger than last year’s, which was moved from the Safeway parking lot to a stage on 18th Avenue, outside the Jamboree grounds, in an effort to get Sweet Home residents and visitors involved.

This year’s Thursday night performers will be Justin Lee, who will kick off the show, and Matt Stell, who will open for the Kickoff Party headliner Travis Denning.

“We want to give back to the community, even though Ron talks about how much the Jamboree gives the community,” Shamek said. “We have a down period when we have thousands of people come in to campsites who don’t have much to do.”

Also, he said, “This is a free show. It’s the only time members of our community, who can’t make it into the Jamboree, can come to the Jamboree.”

The event also enables volunteers, who often can’t really relax when they’re on duty during the festival to enjoy the show.

“We pay all the people who put this thing on,” he said. “It’s really fun to see patrons mixing with people from Sweet Home and the volunteers, all the people who come to support the Jamboree.”

Also upcoming for SHEDG is the annual Mystery Concert with “a great artist” in Corvallis on March 29, as well as concerts in Portland and a summer concert series at the Veterans Home in Lebanon, which SHEDG has held for the last three years, Shamek said.

“This is probably the coolest thing I’ve done all year,” he said, adding that the Veterans Home concerts are not open to the public, so are not publicized. “I love the Jamboree, but when I get to the Veterans Home and watch all these veterans, wives of veterans, husbands of veterans – they’re enjoying life. It’s absolutely incredible.”

This year, he said, the Jamboree will continue a program it began last year on a low-key level, in which the festival set aside a free ticket for veterans for every ticket it sold in the month of June.

“The first year it was a little slow,” Shamek said. “It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. We’ll push it a little harder this year. It is an awesome idea.”

Moore said the SHEDG board is “excited.”

“We’ve definitely had struggles the last few years with the Jamboree, the way things were working. We’ve made some changes that some people kind of looked a little weird at, but now they see it’s working.

“We’ve outlasted all the others. We run a clean ship. Robert’s done a great job.”