Crews prepare for Jamboree in the Hills

MORRISTOWN — Thousands of country music fans will filter into the Jamboree in the Hills site starting Thursday when the 38th annual event officially begins.

Many of those people will arrive, watch the shows, have a good time and then on Sunday evening return to their homes without a second thought.

In order for the show to go on, plenty of work was done leading up to the show, which features a top-shelf lineup with the likes of Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Montgomery Gentry and Little Big Town set to perform over the course of the four-day event.

With just 48 hours to go before the opening ceremonies, Operations Director Scott Hall Jones and assistant director Perry Jones were finalizing things throughout the venue and campgrounds, which opened Monday morning, Tuesday afternoon.

“The operations and grounds crew start working, part time, as early as April with some preliminary things,” Scott Hall Jones said. “But, about the first of June, the full-time work begins and it kind of builds from there more and more each week.”

The work that the operations crew is responsible for includes, but is not limited to, all of the fencing that surrounds the venue and campgrounds; the signage around the grounds, including the roads and inside; preparing the campgrounds, hiring the police departments, mounted patrol, event staff, etc.

“Probably the Monday after the show ends, we start working on next year,” Perry Jones said. “There are just new problems every year, it seems.”

The crew also oversees the placement of campers for the staff, trailers and some of the work involving the stage.

“When people starting coming out a month ago it’s hard to visualize the transformation that happens,” Hall-Jones said. “

The work on officially preparing the area starts in late May. The crew began erecting the fences on June 23.

“It takes a lot of people and a lot of hours,” Perry Jones said. “People don’t realize all of the time it takes to get this ready.”

After the show, it’ll take the crew about three weeks to take the fencing down and stored away for next year.

“To get the area back to 90 percent, it takes about three or four weeks and then another additional month or so to finish the project,” Hall-Jones said. “The cleaning crew that comes through after the show will be done by Thursday afternoon.”

At about the same time that the real work begins to prepare the venue, Bryan Electric arrives on site to begin the process of making sure everything is in working order around the stage, too.

The Operations Staff, which includes office personnel, includes no fewer than 25 workers, many of whom are new each year.

“On average, about half of our crew is new,” Perry Jones said. “The jobs only last about six to eight weeks.”

Hall-Jones admits that while the process is taxing and stressful, when it’s all said and done on Thursday, it’s very rewarding.

“The wonderful time that our loyal fans have each year is very rewarding after we see it all come together” Hall-Jones said.