By Tammy Watts
FT. LORAMIE — A record-breaking crowd enjoyed sunny skies, temperatures in the mid-80s, and relatively low humidity on July 9, the third and final day of the sold-out Country Concert in Fort Loramie.
The day’s lineup featured Niko Moon, Lauren Alaina, Chris Lane, Hardy, and Morgan Wallen on the Main Stage, with John Morgan, ERNEST, Hailey Whitters, Sawyer Brown, and Jake Worthington performing on the Saloon Stage.
Harold Hensley of Germantown, and Jamie Suttle of Dayton, performed on both the Homegrown Honky Tonk and VIP Stages. Suttle has opened for artists such as Ashley McBryde, Lee Brice, the Kentucky Headhunters, Wynonna, and Lainey Wilson. Shelby Wells, of Hamilton, and winner of the JD Legends Get the Gig (GTG) Contest, was also included.
Heather Thompson and her family drove five hours, from their home near Lake Cumberland, Ky., for her 10th Country Concert. “We camp: we always get here Tuesday night, and stay until Sunday. We love it,” she said. Thompson was most looking forward to seeing Hardy and Morgan Wallen, a sentiment echoed by the majority of concert-goers, judging from the numerous “Wallen-Hardy 2024” t-shirts in the crowd.
Rose Bulcher of Rossburg, has been coming to Country Concert with her seven adult children for 35 years. “Even if people don’t know me by name, they know my face; it’s always nice to see everyone, year after year,” she said.
Carla Rose, age 5, made friends while waiting for ERNEST to perform. She briefly sported hot pink earphones for her first music festival, then removed, them, apparently comfortable with the volume. ERNEST’s set included the songs “Somebody’s Problem,” which he co-wrote with the night’s headliner, Morgan Wallen, and the hit “Flower Shops.”
Meanwhile, on the Main Stage, Lauren Alaina performed “Ladies in the ’90s,” before launching into a respectable cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
“That was late ’80s, but who’s counting?” observed one audience member.
Keeping with the ’90s theme, Sawyer Brown, who gained fame in that decade for their hit songs, “Thank God for You,” “Some Girls Do,” and “The Walk” gave one of the evening’s most energetic performances. The band has been in country music the longest, out of Saturday’s performers; with lead singer Mark Miller’s enthusiastic dancing, and powerful vocals, it is clear why Sawyer Brown remains a concert draw.
Tim Thorpe managed to procure plastic chairs for himself and his girlfriend, Sarah, while waiting for Hailey Whitters to take the stage. The couple drove from Grand Rapids, Mich., and attended all three days of Country Concert. “Don’t tell anyone here we’re from Michigan,” Thorpe chuckled, noting the rivalry between the two states’ collegiate sports programs.
A scantily clad Tom Goodman of Bowling Green, Ohio, was attending his second Country Concert, the first being 25 years ago. “I was wearing the same outfit, too,” he laughed. “I pretty much get the same reaction as back then. They come up to me, I don’t approach anyone, so as not to offend,” he stated, pointing out several people lined up to have their picture taken with him.
Headliner Morgan Wallen closed out Country Concert 2022 with a powerful, upbeat performance, encapsulating the spirit of the event. Highlights included “Wasted on You,” “More Than My Hometown,” and “Sand in My Boots,” which showcased Wallen’s prowess on the piano.
Many in the audience were already looking forward to 2023, as they filed out of the venue. “It just gets bigger and better every year,” said Rodney Kuhn, of Muncie, Ind. “I can’t wait until next year!”
Contact Daily Advocate Reporter Tammy Watts at [email protected]