By: Jeremy Morris
Country music and camping are simply a family tradition for Chris Dutton and his sister, Nina. The family has operated the largest campground associated with Jamboree in the Hills for decades.
Country music itself is deeply rooted in the Ohio Valley. The WWVA Jamboree was beamed across the land by radio waves for as long as this kind of music has been called “country.” The music is engrained in our people. It runs through our veins. It beats in our hearts.
When Jamboree went dark, the Duttons knew they couldn’t let the music and fun stop. Jamboree had come to mean so much to so many people across the valley and across the country. It was a homecoming event for many Ohio Valley ex-pats.
They knew they could tap into that longing for a summertime country music festival. They could do it with a new venue and a higher quality experience. The Blame My Roots Festival was born in 2019, and its name pays homage to country legend Garth Brooks’ famous song, Friends in Low Places, but also homage to the country music roots of the Ohio Valley.
This year’s Blame My Roots Festival 2021 will be held July 15-17 at the Valleyview Campground in Belmont, Ohio. Visit www.blamefest.com for ticket and camping information and purchase.
Beating the Odds and Impressing the Nashville Brass
Chris and Nina knew they had a challenging task ahead of them. Jamboree had been the “Grand-daddy of Country Music Festivals,” and anything that picked up in its place, even on a smaller scale, would be judged accordingly. If their festival were to succeed and attract top talent that would sustain itself, it would need energy and class. It would have to impress Nashville’s top of brass. The music talent, producers, and tour managers would need to see this was a serious operation.
They did just that in year one.
“We got high remarks from the talent and tour managers that first year,” says Dutton. That message trickled up the management chain. “They (tour operators) heard our ‘whirlwind festival’ was very professional and safe. The food was good, marketing was great, and they felt we could do this again.”
The Duttons hit their mark and began to prepare for 2020, but like all events, it was postponed until 2021.
Creating a New 2021 Experience
The Pandemic allowed them to rethink and plan the festival on a larger scale. They pursued headliners that would attract national attention, garnering longtime Jamboree favorite Neal McCoy for Friday Night and Miranda Lambert for the Saturday night finale.
“The whole process for Covid was nuts, everyone was working remotely, the talent agents were on beaches somewhere,” says Dutton, “it took a longtime to book the show.”
In addition to national headliners, the 2021 festival brings a totally new experience to the valley with the Glessner Group VIP Suites and Country Cabanas, which offer a heightened festival experience for patrons. The Glessner Group VIP Suites provides a Beer Garden, a VIP Tent on the Hill, a private shaded tent, separate porta johns from general admissions, and patrons are welcome to bring their own chair into the suite area.
The Glessner Group Country Cabana provides what some might call a ‘Hillbilly Deluxe’ experience. Each cabana provides a private “Box” for 6 VIP ticket holders, exclusive bottle service, complimentary case of Bud Light, beer service by the bucket, and front stage access for the whole concert experience.
“We want to bring the elevated festival experiences that are happening elsewhere around the nation to the Ohio Valley,” says Dutton.
These experiences will set Blame My Roots apart from past music festivals. It will allow them to grow and brand their venue for a new era of country music festival goers in the Ohio Valley. Check out the complete list of amenities included with the Glessner Group VIP & Country Cabana, plus an artist rendering the VIP boxes.
Food Trucks, a Local Musician, and Helping High Schools
Festival food never quite hits the spot, but Blame My Roots looks to change that with Republic Services Food Truck Competition. Food truck vendors have been invited from around the country to participate in this year’s festival. “We are really excited to bring quality food to our patrons this year and honored to have Republic Services on board as the sponsor of the event,” says Dutton. Vendors will compete for various cash prizes, learn more about participating and how to sign up here.
While camping and events begin on Wednesday evening, Friday night will feature a special performance by local musician Luke Burkhardt. Burkhardt, a native of Shadyside, Ohio, launched his debut album Postcards earlier this year. The recording included musicians from West Virginia, Los Angeles, and Nashville, and was mastered by Sam Moses of Moses Mastering in Nashville. “Luke opens up the whole event for IHeartMedia Friday Night and I am really excited that we could do that with a local guy,” says Dutton. Follow Burkhardt on Facebook
While the Pandemic wreaked havoc on all our lives, perhaps none suffered more than our students. The Blame My Roots team has seized on this years’ festival as an opportunity to support our youth. They have partnered with Belmont Savings Bank to offer graduating Seniors in surrounding counties discounted tickets to the festival. However, not only will these seniors get discounted tickets, but their school’s music programs will get the discounted portion as a donation. The school with the most significant participation will get a bonus of $1,500. Check out the Belmont Savings Bank Grad Program here.
The Blame My Roots Festival is July 15-17, 2021, at the Valleyview Campgrounds in Belmont, Ohio. www.blamefest.com