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Jamboree In The Hills

Former site has new owner, fate to be decided

T-L Photo/ ROBERT A. DEFRANK The site of the former Jamboree In The Hills has been silent and unused since 2018, but future activity is expected with the announcement of a new owner. The property’s use has not been determined.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Since 2018 the former Jamboree In The Hills site has been silent after the owner, Live Nation, announced a “hiatus.” The site is now under new ownership, but it remains to be seen what activities will take place there in the future.

For more than four decades, the hills between St. Clairsville and Belmont and Morristown have echoed with country music during the yearly Jamboree In The Hills festival, which drew celebrants and singers from across the county and birthed famous traditions such as the “redneck run” to secure places to enjoy the music.

Now, the Barack family of Bellaire has purchased the site for $1.3 million and is exploring options for the 210-acre spot along U.S. 40.

“There’s a lot of possibilities,” Roger Barack said.

“We don’t have any definitive plan,” his son Cody Barack said. “It’s too valuable of an asset to leave it stand vacant.”

He said the family will accept any assistance from officials as they determine the future of this property.

“We’d look forward to any thoughts or any assistance that could be provided by Belmont County Port Authority or the board of tourism,” he said. “They may have some thoughts or some ideas or be able to offer some type of assistance in promoting or developing it into some venue.”

While the location has become well-known as an entertainment venue, the Barack family’s agreement with Live Nation may preclude some options in that direction.

“There is a deed restriction, but there are also private agreements that we have with Live Nation, so that deed restriction is not set in stone,” Cody Barack said. “Live Nation, they get a bad rap from the public, but they were excellent to work with and I anticipate possibly working with them in the future in some capacity with this site, so everything’s on the table at this point.”

He would not speculate when the public might hear an official announcement about the site’s future.

In the short-term, the new owners will begin maintenance on the land after it has been left mostly fallow.

“At this point, we are going to secure and clean it up. It’s kind of grown up, it’s kind of been left trashy,” he said. “We’re going to improve the grounds, get it back in shape. … It’s been over two years since anyone’s done any maintenance to the property, so there’s a lot of stuff to clean up and fix just on the grounds in general, but no major construction or anything of that nature right now.”

He confirmed the family owns several other properties around Belmont County, but whether they might be used in conjunction is also undecided.

“I intend to reach out to them,” Belmont County Port Authority Director Larry Merry said. “The Baracks have other property in the county, so they’ll continue to develop.”

Belmont County Commissioner Jerry Echemann said the county would like to see that property in use again.

“We always had hope that Jamboree might come back, but as time went on it became more obvious that they weren’t going to come back. In that sense, we’re glad that there was a sale of the property,” he said.

“Roger Barack is the purchaser, it’s up to him obviously to develop that in any way he sees fit. I have no idea what his plans are. From a county commissioner standpoint, we would like to see industrial development of some type, which would provide a lot of jobs for Belmont County,” Echemann said.

“We have a port authority and the commission as well will be standing by to assist them in any way possible if they decide that’s the round they want to go, but I would hope something would happen sooner rather than later, within the next year or two. I guess they could put a housing development there, which would be OK. I don’t think you’ll see it in any kind of recreational use,” Echemann said. “It’s a good piece of property, and ought to be attractive to a lot of people in business with its proximity to the interstate.”

Meanwhile, a nearby campground has been converted by the Dutton family to host a new county music festival, Blame My Roots. Like many other festivals, the event was canceled in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic, but will be held again this summer.

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