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Dusty Armadillo Celebrates 15th Anniversary


The year 2002 was a great year for country music. Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, George Strait and Keith Urban were on the top of the country music charts and the Dusty Armadillo opened their doors for the first time. The club in Rootstown, Ohio is celebrating their 15th anniversary this weekend with a party featuring Chris Cavanaugh from Nashville. We had a chance to get some of the club’s history over the last decade and a half from the club’s General Manager, Colleen Zito.

What was the official opening day for Dusty?

“I don’t remember our “official opening day.” However, we opened in June of 2002 as The Dusty Armadillo. We were previously open only 1 day a week, Fridays, for dance lessons with Bud and Marsha Bailey, with open dance following instructions. We were called “Club Dance” during those days.”

What was the first national act to play at Dusty?

“The first national act to play our stage from our records was Joe Nichols in June of 2003.”

Any idea how many national acts have performed over the years at the club?

“We have had hundreds of shows at the club, however many are repeat artists/groups. I would estimate we have had about 90 – 100 different artists/groups play our stage.”

What have been some of the highlights of the club over the past decade and a half?

“My favorite highlight was when Eric Church included us in an exclusive 6-club run as part of his album release of “The Outsiders” on Thursday, February 13, 2014. To be picked as one of 6 clubs from across the country is such a high honor!”

Eric Church performing at the Dusty Armadillo in 2014 as part of his exclusive 6-club tour in conjunction with the release of his album, The Outsiders.

What awards has the Dusty Armadillo won through the years?

“We have been named GAC Ohio’s #1 Honky Tonk, we were previously nominated for ACM Nightclub of the Year, as well as many local/regional awards for years as: “Best Live Music Venue” and “Best Dance Club”.

What size is the club, Dance Floor, and when did the building originally open?

“Our solid maple dance floor is 5,000 square feet, with the building being approximately 8,500 square feet. I am unaware of the actual opening date, but the building has been in operation on and off since 1926, when it was Maples Ballroom, it hosted Big Band and Ballroom dancing.”

Any stories that you could share about some things that have happened at the club?

“The club is full of stories and memories! Some are just too juicy to share! But some favorites include, March 17, 2012, Jake Owen played and it was St. Patrick’s Day, he literally played for 3 hours, it is still one of my favorite concerts we’ve hosted.”

“The power went out during a Parmalee show, the crowd pulled out their phones and the band literally played “unplugged” and didn’t miss a beat. Five minutes later, the power was restored.”

“We (The DA Staff) have made so many friends throughout the years. We’ve been the location of numerous couple’s meeting places, as well as engagements and we’ve even hosted a couple weddings. We love that our patrons find love on our dance floor.”

Anything else you would like to add?

“The Dusty Armadillo, it’s staff, management and ownership would like to thank everyone for 15 years of outstanding entertainment! Since our grand opening in 2002, it’s been an incredible roller coaster ride of memories (Thank goodness, we didn’t have smart phones back then). We Thank You for all of the friendships, support and great times we’ve had over the years with each and every one of you. Here’s to another 15 years! Cheers!”

The Dusty Armadillo welcomes everyone to join in the 15th Anniversary Celebration this Saturday, July 8. Chris Cavanaugh from Nashville will be performing and there will be raffle items available with the proceeds benefitting the Northeast Ohio Foundation for Patriotism (NEOPAT). This event is open to the public and 18+ are welcome, and everyone gets in FREE. Doors open at 9:00 PM

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