FORT LORAMIE — This year’s Country Concert made for a record-breaking weekend in attendance.
A record investment in lineups and in facilities paired with great weather made for a record weekend, Country Concert General Manager Paul Barhorst said.
“We had two Saturday-type crowds for Thursday and Friday and a larger-than-average Saturday crowd,” he said.
July 10 attendance was 23,693, July 11 was 22,936 and July 12 brought in 27,629 people.
Despite the hike in this year’s attendance, Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart said the activity was about the same as years past.
Most of the weekend’s charges fell under disorderly conducts, underage consumptions and trespassing, or in other words, normal charges for a crowd that size, he said.
Lenhart said it was noteworthy the amount of billfolds, purses and forms of identification turned in during the weekend. Several of those turned in included licenses, Social Security cards and sometimes up to several hundred dollars.
“The amount turned in says nice things about the people that were there,” Lenhart said.
With the help of Hardin, Logan and Auglaize county forces and private security, they were able to handle the giant crowds.
“We felt good about the behavior of most people out there, although a few people’s parents would not be proud of their child’s actions out there,” Lenhart said.
Along with the country music superstar performances, the new facilities were believed to help increase attendance as well.
The new metal sound tower allowed several artists throughout the weekend to make their way off the main stage and into the crowd. During Luke Bryan’s performance Saturday night he ventured onto the platform, waving the American flag, and got closer to those in general admission.
“That was a neat moment made possible with the new platform,” Barhorst said. The platform “really brings people close to the action. I think that was a big hit.”
Chase Rice also used the sound tower platform during his performance, making for one of the loudest 4 p.m. audiences ever, Barhorst said.
Along with the new sound tower, a new Saloon Stage was built as well. Barhorst predicted the new stage probably tripled the number of people who could enjoy the entertainers than in years past.
“The new Saloon Stage allowed for an increased production, a giant video screen and a light show to shine a light on the up-and-coming talent who very well could find themselves on the main stage,” he said.
With the current top touring act in country music in Luke Bryan, several artists with new albums landing at the top of the charts and country music legends, the 34th annual Country Concert had something for everyone, Barhorst said. This variety of entertainment brought in not only people from across the country but international fans as well from Australia, Japan, Sweden and Canada.
Though this year’s concert just ended last weekend, the Country Concert crew is hitting the ground running in preparation for next year. Last week, they began emailing surveys to those who attended this year and posted to social media sites asking fans who they want to see in 2015.
Country Concert will once again be searching for the top headliners.
“We will be increasing the entertainment budget for next year and raising the bar of the performers,” Barhorst said. “We plan on doing what it takes to have these type of entertainers throughout the show based on what the fans want.
“It was an awesome weekend and we’re already planning for the 35th annual concert next year as we speak,” he added.