The Growth of Jamboree in the Hills

The Growth of Jamboree in the Hills

The Growth of Jamboree in the Hills

When my husband and I moved to St. Clairsville in 1974, things were pretty dull around there. We moved to St. Clairsville from Upper St. Clair, Penn., which is within walking distance of South Hills Village.  The area was in the middle of an energy crisis and, as the saying goes, St. Clairsville “rolled up the streets” at 5:00.  And, to top it off, we moved onto Graham Road, which to me, a city girl, was out in the country! Fast forward a few years—we moved into town! Things were looking up.  Forty years ago, Jamboree in the Hills became a reality. It is located in Morristown, Ohio-- population of 302!  Jamboree (or Jambo as it sometimes referred to) is attended by approximately 100,000 people over the course of the weekend.  However, I have never been counted in the number. When Jamboree was very young, my husband and I would sit on our porch and watch the e-squads go by on I-70.  Now there is a fully staffed medical tent and only serious problems are transported to area hospitals. My friend, John Cox, was a bail bondsman and he told me that he and several other bail bondsmen stayed at the sheriff’s office and took turns making bail for people who got out of hand. In the early days, I believe only Riesbeck’s Food Market was available for necessities.  The mall hadn’t yet been built.  There was no K-Mart or WalMart. After the St. Clairsville Mall was built, Jamboree people came to town to cool off and get something to eat. There were not many food options on the site back then. Now, the whole area around Morristown is busy and exciting on “Jambo” weekend.  I like to drive west on Route 40 and watch the activity.  Tents and food trucks and souvenir stands start popping up the weekend before Jamboree.  People start arriving and claiming their camp sites. People bring their campers, tents, coolers and lawn chairs.  By Wednesday evening the hillsides will be completely covered with campers. It can be very frustrating, but also very lucrative for those who live near the site.  People rent their lawns and driveways for parking and some provide showers.  It is also very frustrating to get in and out of the area.  It is loud, traffic is horrendous and people get rowdy after a hot day in the sun.  Sometimes it pours the rain, the site gets muddy, but people return year after year. Although I personally have never been inside the gates of Jamboree, I love to drive by and watch the people dragging their coolers and chairs hoping to snag a great spot. It is my understanding that one fan bought a casket and filled it with ice.   There are always problems that arise at an event like Jamboree, but it is exciting and lucrative for our area.  The event is policed and people who get too “rambunctious” are encouraged to leave.  The event is not for the faint at heart, but I have never talked with anyone who went who said they wished they hadn’t gone. After the final performance of the event, people start packing up to go home and by Sunday evening, most of the grounds and hillsides are again empty of people, campers and coolers. I will drive by again every night of the event to watch the people and be amazed at how many people can fit into one little town’s, hillsides and camp grounds. Although I doubt I will ever go since crowds are definitely not my thing, I would say try it!  You just might like it!