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SWEET HOME — Over the last 27 years through the Oregon Jamboree, Sweet Home High School students have earned more than $500,000 for school activities, retired athletic director Larry Johnson told the City Council Tuesday evening.

Johnson said that figure does not include the money the school district receives in compensation for facilities usage.

Johnson and others talked about the Jamboree’s value to the community as part of the event’s annual permit review process. Event director Robert Shamek provided council members with a permit packet in February, after being a bit tardy with last year’s information, drawing the ire of some council members.

Johnson has been a Jamboree volunteer since its inception as an economic development tool in 1992. He heads up the “ice team” that delivers ice to drink vendors and he acts as liaison to the school programs. He said that over the last few years the girls basketball program has earned about $900 per year, the dance team about $1,000 per year and the soccer team about $1,300 per year.

Johnson said, there are about 20 different SHHS programs earning funds at the event. The ice team has donated $5,000 toward the football field turf project; $1,000 toward the auditorium remodeling project and soccer field site projects; and $2,000 for new volleyball standards.

And, Johnson said, the students learn about work and giving back to their community.

“I believe the Oregon Jamboree is a huge asset for our school district as well as the entire community,” Johnson said. “The festival is well known throughout the state, as well as out of state. It is a significant business in our community and should be considered as such.”

Scott Weld, owner of Buck’s portable toilets, said that his work with the Jamboree provided him with the skills to expand to provide similar services to other large festivals and events around the state.

“The Jamboree has helped me learn and grow my business,” Weld said.

School Superintendent Tom Yahraes praised the relationship between the school district and the Jamboree and the job skills students learn volunteering at the event.

“It’s also important in teacher recruitment,” Yahraes, said. “When I contact a prospective teacher and tell them we are the town that hosts the Oregon Jamboree, they recognize the event and that’s very helpful.”

Carroll Unruh, owner of Oregon Beverage Services, said the Jamboree is well-respected.

“We provide services to everything from the Rose Festival to the State Fair and there is no better group than the one at work here in terms of creating a safe and secure environment,” Unruh said.

Shamek told the Democrat-Herald before the meeting that ticket sales are up about 20 percent, in part because the Bi-Mart Willamette Country Music Festival held near Brownsville has folded, and because this year’s lineup is popular.

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Headline acts include the Brothers Osborne, Hank Williams Jr., Chris Young, Scotty McCreery and Neal McCoy, among others.

Shamek told council members there were about 1,200 volunteers last year and he expects the number to remain steady this year.

Shamek said this year’s free kick-off party will be held Aug. 1 near the festival site behind Sweet Home High School. The event is a fundraiser for Sweet Home arts programs and was extremely popular last year, drawing more than 800 people.

The event features live music, drawings, merchandise sales and food vendors.

“We’re going to announce three acts during the Sweet Home Economic Development Group’s annual meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Sunshine Activity Center on Clark Mill Road,” Shamek said. “The meeting is open to the public and we are excited about the entertainment we’ve booked.”

Shamek added that the Jamboree’s annual “Mystery Concert” will be held March 29 at the LaSells Stewart Center on the OSU campus. Tickets are $20 and are on sale at www.oregonjamboree.com, or call 541-367-8800.

Tickets for the Aug. 2-4 Oregon Jamboree are also on sale at the same site. A three-day general admission pass is $160 and a 3-day reserved seating pass is $295. 

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Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.

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