Hank Williams Jr. will headline the American Made Country Music Fest

Historic event at Muskingum County Fairgrounds expected to draw 7,000 visitors and boost local businesses

ZANESVILLE — When Dusty Guitar Promotions formed in 2013, their goal was to bring high-end country acts to Muskingum County.

They quickly accomplished that mission, welcoming the likes of Charlie Daniels and Travis Tritt—to name a few—to the historic Secrest Auditorium.

That pales in comparison to what’s to come this summer.

The first American Made Country Music Fest will be held June 24 at the Muskingum County Fairgrounds, where six-time platinum legend Hank Williams Jr. .

Those with camping passes can set up on June 22. Those camping will also be invited to a free Friday concert featuring an up-and-coming Nashville artist to be announced at a later date.

Sarah Harren of Dusty Guitar said the festival is believed to be the first of its kind in Zanesville, with Williams Jr., a five-time Country Music Artist of the Year, making his first appearance in Muskingum County in his more than 50-year career.

Williams Jr. will be joined by Aaron Lewis and Sammy Kershaw, along with Dylan Carmichael, The Davisson Brothers, River Rats, Sugar Creek and Up 2 No Good. The remaining acts will be announced at a later date. Williams Jr. will perform a week after the June 17 release of his new album, Rich White Honky Blues.

Tickets can be purchased starting at 10 a.m. on February 10 at AMCMFest.com.

Three levels of ticketing options will be available, including the American Pride Gold Circle, which is an exclusive seating area in front of the stage where patrons can either stand or bring their own chairs. It will include private toilets and bars.

Haren said they hope the three days will take on a Jamboree In the Hills feel. Acts like Williams Jr., who regularly draws large crowds, and Lewis and Kershaw, who have each played in Zanesville before, will set a new standard.

Landing Williams Jr. was a matter of simply sending an offer to his agent, Haren said. Having a strong reputation in the music industry and the connections they have built as a result have helped attract notable acts to the city.

“We wanted to go out with a bang,” Haren said. “We want this to be an annual event for Muskingum County.”

The wheels were set in motion after Dusty Guitar approached the Muskingum County Fair Board and proposed the idea. When the tip was acceptable, Haren said, they began researching and came up with potential actions. The board will receive a rental fee for hosting.

This is believed to be a financial boon to the city, especially hotels, restaurants and grocery stores for campers who wish to stock up on festival essentials. There will also be numerous food vendors along with various clothing vendors. Alcohol will be provided by the Zanesville Jaycees.

“We’re expecting up to 7,000 people,” Haren said. “That’s a lot of people. Sixty-five to 70 percent of our ticket sales come from outside the zip code (Zanesville). The tax dollars alone are going to be in the hundreds of thousands for the community… Every business in town is likely to see a benefit and an influx.”

As with past fairground concerts, the artists will perform in the grandstand. This time, however, there will be a side stage and large screens on the main stage so that those in the stands have a better view of the shows.

“I think we have a great lineup,” Haren said. “We are working hard with sponsors and local vendors to make this a really good experience for everyone. There are different things that people can do once they’re in the field, just really cool, immersive, memorable things.

“It’s more than just hearing artists play,” Haren added. “It’s new, Zanesville has never had anything like it, and it’s definitely a must-do.”

[email protected]; Twitter: @SamBlackburnTR

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