(Submitted photo)
(Submitted photo)
The Paint Valley Jamboree, Ohio’s longest-running country music show, kicks off its 57th season at Bainbridge’s historic Paxton Theatre Saturday, Feb. 20th at 7 p.m.

The show’s lineup includes Jamboree favorites LeighAnne Cooper, Mandie McQuaid and Tim Villars, with special guest Emma Horick.

Cooper and Villars have decades of history with the Jamboree and were both eager to return for 2021. West Virginia’s Mandie McQuaid made her popular Jamboree debut in 2019 and was an easy choice when putting together this year's cast of performers.

Also back for 2021 is the Original Jam Band, featuring Mike Gabbard (lead guitar and vocals), Joe Clooney (bass guitar and vocals), Kenny Holycross (steel guitar and vocals) and Donnie Robison (drums and vocals).

Paxton Theatre staff say big changes are in store for this year’s Jamboree attendees, the largest of which is the inclusion of dinner with each Jamboree ticket purchase. Dinners are served one hour prior to the show in the neighboring event space and include a live acoustic music set from a member of the band. Dinner Feb. 20 features homemade chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes and green beans from Bainbridge caterer All Fired Up.

Other venue upgrades and changes include additional technology to livestream events for home viewing; new ticket area, merchandise area and bar featuring 50 West Microbrews; and the implementation of all state required safety protocols to keep patrons, volunteers and entertainers safe.

Organizers say that putting together a calendar of performances for 2021 has been a challenge, but important to the group and the community.

“After being closed for nearly a year, making all the necessary changes to once again open the doors of the Paxton Theatre has been a labor of love,” said board president Deb Koehl.

The 2021 Paxton Theatre schedule will also include the stage play “Bette and Joan,” an Aron Jones Elvis Tribute, Cabaret Night, Christmas radio play “It’s a Wonderful Life” and six performances of The Paint Valley Jamboree.

The lights came up on the Paint Valley Jamboree for the first time on Feb. 27, 1965, when James Sweeney and Lou Harris formed a partnership to bring a live country and western show to the old Paxton Township Hall (also known as the Bainbridge Opera House). The Jamboree grew wildly in popularity with its mix of local talent and Nashville’s up-and-coming stars of the time: Waylon Jennings, Dottie West, Merle Haggard, Connie Smith, Johnny Paycheck, Minnie Pearl, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Little Jimmy Dickens, Porter Wagoner and many more.

A new “Jamboree Society” pass is also now available for sale. For $85, holders will receive dinner tickets to two of the six Jamborees and streaming access for the additional shows, speakers series and two additional “small stages” concerts.

Additional 2021 Jamboree performances are scheduled for April 17, June 12, Aug. 14, Oct. 9 and Dec. 11. More information is available by calling the Paxton at (740) 634-0029.

Doors open and dinner is served at each performance at 6 p.m., with the stage show starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are available in advance at paxtontheatre.org or by calling (740) 634-0029. An $8 option to stream the event from the comfort of your home is also available for purchase online.

The Paxton Theatre is located at 133 E. Main St., Bainbridge. For more information, visit www.PaxtonTheatre.org.