County ready for annual Country Concert


By Jacob Clemens

For the Sidney Daily News

FORT LORAMIE – Country Concert, a nationally recognized celebration of the region’s most popular genre of music, is returning to the familiar grounds of Hickory Hills Lake for a 42nd installment. After selling out the venue for the first time ever last year, organizers hope that this year’s card will attract the same attendance.

Headlining night one, July 6, of the three-day event will be 2017 ACM Award winner Jon Pardi at 8 p.m., and three-time Grammy Award winner and platinum artist Tim McGraw at 10, both on the Main Stage.

Night two, July 7t, will feature Elle King, most well-known for her hit song “Ex’s & Oh’s,” who will kick off the second night of performances on the Main Stage at 4 p.m. Attendees will also see the return of multiple-time CMA and ACM award winner Dierks Bentley for his fifth Country Concert appearance at 10 on the Main Stage.

Night three, July 8, will have big names as well, boasting performances from recent sensation Jelly Roll, who will in no doubt be performing his first No.1 country single, “Son of a Sinner,” at 8 p.m., and five-time ACM “Entertainer of the Year” Luke Bryan at 10. on the Main Stage.

Alongside the bigger name stars set to perform at the Hills’ famous Main Stage, The “Homegrown Honky Tonk” tent will feature local Ohioans looking to make a name for themselves:

Night one’s local performances start with Leah Crose (Springfield) at 5 p.m., the yet-to-be-named winner of the JD Legends “Get The Gig” contest at 7, and Blake Tyler (Lebanon) at 9:15.

Night two will include Derek Alen (Lima) at 5 p.m., Jamie Baxter (Coal Grove) at 7, and Anthony Mossburg (New Matamoras) at 9:15.

Night three will feature Greenville, Ohio-based band “Shanon Clark & The Sugar” at 5 p.m., Kevin McCoy at 7, and conclude with Simba Jordan (Columbus) at 9:15.

However, following past festivals that showcased internationally known talent, this year’s lineup has been scrutinized for featuring an underwhelming and aging cast of performers, according to sentiments from attendees.

“Looks like a lineup from 10 years ago,” one comment said. “Deff ain’t selling out this year with these headliners. Buncha has beens,” another said harshly.

Whether such criticism is warranted is up for debate and ultimately subjective, however, Paul Barhorst, the lead organizer for Country Concert, had this to say after the performers were announced back in September:

“Although there’s not one artist or lineup that will please everyone, we try to have something for everyone.” Barhorst said, “People are passionate about their favorites, and we are thrilled that people care enough to tell us how they feel about our lineup and who they want to see.

So much talent congregating in one place brings about more benefits than just good music, though.

Rather expectedly, this year’s Country Concert will provide a massive economic boost to Sidney and the surrounding counties. In their pre-concert press notes, the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce expects attendance to surpass 76,000 over the three-day event. Using data obtained by Heart of it All, Ohio’s tourism and travel offices, it’s predicted that those attending will spend an excess of $18,200,000 on “meals, concert tickets, campsites, and refreshments,” as well as hotel rooms across the area, from Lima to Troy, to right here in Sidney.

Without a doubt, the annual Country Concert is a valuable asset to the Sidney economy, as well as the entirety of West Central Ohio.

However, Jeff Raible, president of the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, described another lesser-thought-of benefit to the annual celebration in his press notes:

“…We view this event as an opportunity to showcase the lifestyle of our community as well. It’s important that we put our best foot forward and present this area as a desirable place to live, to work, and to have fun. We want those visiting to enjoy their stay, come back, and even consider a relocation here from their current home.” Raible explained, “This often overlooked benefit of Country Concert is definitely notable and impactful in Shelby County.”

For more information regarding the schedule for Country Concert 2023, visit or the Country Concert Facebook page.

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