SHOWTIME! The annual Country Concert brings big-name stars and tens of thousands of fans to rural Shelby County BY MARGIE WUEBKER
Fans came there to enjoy headliners, old favorites, and newcomers to the country music scene, to camp out and have fun with friends, and to share their love for the music with a massive crowd. “It is so rewarding,” Barhorst often remarked to friends and family, “to watch thousands of people take a shared emotional journey through the power of a song.” Barhorst, who died in March 2015 at the age of 77, instilled a passion for continuing his legacy in his wife, Mary Jo, and their five sons — Tony, Brian, Mark, Scott, and Paul — who have assumed the challenge. The family will once again roll out the welcome mat this month for popular recording artists and appreciative fans alike, as Country Concert ’19 takes place July 11 to 13 at Hickory Hill Lakes, their 500-acre complex located along State Route 66 near Fort Loramie. This marks the 39th year of the event. Headliners include Chris Stapleton, Kid Rock, Thomas Rhett, Gary Allan, Dustin Lynch, and the Roots and Boots trio featuring Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin, and Collin Raye. They are among 30 performers scheduled to appear during the weekend. The event, which drew folks from 47 states and seven countries in 2018, began on a decidedly smaller scale at the picturesque campground that the Barhorsts established in 1971 in the midst of Pioneer Rural Electric Cooperative territory. They hosted an annual
24 OHIO COOPERATIVE LIVING • JULY 2019
PHOTOS COURTESY OF PAUL BARHORST/COUNTRY CONCERT
ichael Barhorst never tired of standing near the covered stage in the natural amphitheater on his property in rural Shelby County, watching thousands of country music fans enjoy the Country Concert he organized every year.