The John Brown Jamboree began in 1966, celebrating the Osawatomie community and its people. In 1965, the Paola and Osawatomie fairs consolidated into one Miami County Fair in Paola; yet the people of Osawatomie strongly desired to continue a local celebration. Community leaders decided to start a community event as a “thank you” to the area residents who shopped locally and supported the community.
Web Hawkins, then editor of the Osawatomie Graphic, suggested that it be named the “John Brown Jamboree” as a tribute and historic connection to Osawatomie. The Osawatomie Museum has an original of the full page newspaper advertisement announcing the very first John Brown Jamboree.
Early in the life of the Jamboree, Friday night featured professional wrestling with such Kansas City-based wrestlers as Bob Geigle, Bulldog Bob Brown, The Stomper, The Viking, and Sonny Meyers. The wrestlers suited up at the swimming pool dressing rooms and wrestled in a ring on the football field in front of the stadium. This popular event packed the stands and lawn chairs spilled onto the field. Saturday’s concert the following night featured country or gospel music, also drawing huge crowds.
While there is no longer professional wrestling, the Jamboree still works to bring popular entertainment to the event. The Jamboree now features popular music entertainment acts. Headliners over the past few years have included:
2012—Emerson Drive with Travis Marvin
2013—Josh Thompson (Saturday), KC/DC and Almost Kiss (Friday)
2014—Bucky Covington with Travis Marvin
2015—Keith Anderson with Silver Bullet
2016–Mark Wills with Big Time Grain Co. and the John Brown Boys
This year the Jamboree continues its tradition of great music with red-dirt country sensation Bart Crow. Appearing before Bart will be two acts – Jared Deck and Silver Bullet.