With each ticket sold, music lovers are contributing to Onslow County’s economy.

From summer concerts in the park to large venues such as The Tarheel Concert Lounge in Jacksonville, live music is drawing fans to the county from near and far.

The Tarheel recently announced that country music star Colt Ford will be returning to their venue on July 20 and Platinum-selling group Sister Hazel will be bringing its 2018 “Roll on Bye” tour to Jacksonville soon after on Aug. 2.

Ford said he looks forward to being back in Onslow County.

"I have had a great time in Jacksonville, North Carolina,” Ford told The Daily News. “The Tarheel is a great venue with a wonderful Honky Tonk feel. It’s run great and the people of North Carolina are fantastic to play for. I can’t wait to come back."

Aaron Flahardy, marketing representative for the Tarheel, said a sold out concert draws a crowd of 1,200 to the venue and they have headline acts doing just that.

“Colt Ford will probably do 800 people and Yelawolf on the 27th, they’ll bring in 1,000 or more,” Flahardy said.

While those ticket sales aren’t final yet, Flahardy said Upchurch, the self-proclaimed redneck comedian, with Demun Jones packed the house in June, drawing a crowd to Jacksonville from beyond North Carolina.

“That performance brought in people from Texas, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky and other places as well,” he said.

Flahardy said they work closely with hotels in the county and that performance likely filled at least 50-to-75 hotel rooms in the Onslow County area.

The Tarheel has been in operation since 1968. Current owner Brian Wolfe took over the venue in March 2017 and has diversified to offer a variety of live music options, including country, rock, beach music, comedy, and rap.

“You can’t do just rock or just country or just hip hop, or you are not going to be able to sustain the continuing stream of patrons that you need,” Flahardy said.

There are many variables that contribute to the number of people who attend and from where, with each genre of music drawing different demographics and even the day of the week of a concert contributing. But for a top national act, Flahardy said, there can be as many visitors as well as locals in attendance.

Onslow County Tourism Manager Donna Hammonds said those who visit the area for those performances also stay in local hotels, eat at area restaurants and patronize local businesses.

“Onslow County is fortunate to have a venue like the Tarheel,” Hammonds said. “They bring a whole new demographic of people to enjoy the music and they come and dine in our restaurants and stay in the hotels.”

While venues like the Tarheel offer music year-around, events like last weekend’s Ocean City Jazz Festival draw thousands to the area each year while summer concert series’ like SwanFest in Swansboro are favorites among locals as well as visitors.

People love music and Hammonds said SwanFest, held at the waterfront town square on Sundays during the summer season, was started as a way to keep visitors downtown throughout the weekend.

“It was geared as a way to draw visitors downtown and extend their stay,” Hammonds said.

Each concert, music festival or summer performance draws potential visitors to Onslow County.

“They come for the musical entertainment and many of them will stay and enjoy what we have to offer,” Hammonds said.

 

Reporter Jannette Pippin can be reached at 910-382-2557 or Jannette.Pippin@JDNews.com.