FORT LORAMIE — Day one of Country Concert brought out the eager locals to Hickory Hill Lakes in Fort Loramie.
Thursday’s lineup brought country music fans to the concert grounds, whether it was their first year or they’ve been attending since 1980, the inaugural Country Concert.
The headliners on Thursday’s main stage included Tyler Farr, Florida Georgia Line and Miranda Lambert. Kicking the performances off for the weekend was Joey Hyde on the new Saloon Stage at 3 p.m., who alternated performances with Will Hoge.
Hyde, a Country Concert first-timer, was the first performer on this year’s new saloon stage.
“It was great. It’s an awesome stage, great crowd, people are having fun, I liked it,” Hyde said. “I like seeing the environment. I like seeing everybody in their element, doing what they do and enjoying the music how they like to enjoy the music.”
During the performance, Paul Smith was in the front row interacting with Hyde and his band with his air guitar performance. Hyde said Smith made his band’s performance fun, giving them someone to laugh and interact with.
Smith, a Toledo native, said Hyde gave an excellent performance. “It’s all about interacting with the people,” he said.
This was Smith’s second time at the concert, his first being two years ago when now headliners Florida Georgia Line was on the saloon stage themselves. He said it’s a cool experience to see them going from unknown to superstars on the main stage. Smith was most looking forward to seeing Montgomery Gentry on Friday night because he is a fan of their old school country style.
Along with the saloon stage, the souvenir shops were packed on Thursday afternoon as concert goers prepared for the main stage performers to begin.
Joyce Arnett, who was manning one of the shops, has been working the shop for 16 years. She said sales were excellent in the first day. The T-shirts are typically their best sellers because they come with the names of all of the artists and a free shot glass.
The souvenir shop Arnett works up typically sets up around noon each day and sells merchandise until after the 10 p.m. show has begun. Despite not being able to have much time to watch the performers herself, she does get to enjoy the entertainment both “on and off the stage.”
Campers Nancy Ernst, of Fort Loramie, Diane Ernst and Diane Lutey, both of Bellbrook, have been attending Country Concert on and off since the first concert in 1980. The women had their country music blaring as they waited in the front row of the camping space near the main stage.
To claim the spot they reserve each year, they had to reserve it last November and set up their camper this Tuesday.
“We’ve been coming every year and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Diane Ernst said.
In what is supposed to be one of Country Concert’s largest year yet, both the Red Cross and Sheriff’s department reported no real problems.
Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart reported a few underage consumptions and minor rescue calls, otherwise “it’s just a beautiful Thursday afternoon” he said.
Friday’s performers include Brantley Gilbert, Montgomery Gentry, Dustin Lynch and Chase Rice on the main stage and Blackjack Billy and Clark Manson on the saloon stage.