On Sunday, Greg Abbott retweeted a story with the headline “Garth Brooks Booed Off Stage at 123rd Annual Texas Country Jamboree,” published by an outlet called the Dunning-Kruger Times. “Flagg Eagleton – Patriot”—the story’s author—wrote that Brooks made it only two minutes into his twenty-second annual headlining set at the storied event in Hambriston, Texas, before the boos started from fans. The story quotes conservative country star Toby Keith as saying that Brooks is “playing for the other side.” Abbott’s commentary added the trenchant analysis, “Go woke. Go broke. Garth called his conservative fans ‘assholes.’ Good job Texas.”

Sharp-eyed readers—including one Central Texas Democrat, Congressman Greg Casar—noted that there is no Texas city named Hambriston; that there has not been a Texas Country Jamboree happening in such a city for 123 years; that “Dunning-Kruger” refers to a psychological phenomenon in which nonexperts come to believe they are experts, overestimating their knowledge; and that the byline “Flagg Eagleton – Patriot” ought to have been a dead giveaway that the story was, in fact, satire in the mold of the Onion

Abbott, for his part, quietly deleted his post. To which we say: Don’t delete, double down! Here are some of our favorite moments from Texas Monthly’s coverage of Hambriston’s favorite event, which we first attended back in 1900, a full 73 years before this publication was founded. 

1906: George M. Cohan Plays “You’re a Grand Old Flag” to Thunderous Applause

The first few years of the Texas Country Jamboree were a relatively quiet affair, given that country music didn’t really exist yet. That doesn’t mean that patriotic Texans couldn’t enjoy the decade’s finest vaudeville in those early editions. “You’re a Grand Old Flag” was a turn-of-the-century banger that Hambristonians caught just a few short weeks before the tune would debut in Cohan’s stage musical George Washington Jr. The reception was rapturous—indeed, the applause was so loud that it triggered a stampede among the bulls of the Barron Cattle Empire, who trampled nearby East Hambriston so thoroughly that it quite literally wiped the town off the map. 

1908: The “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” Riot

In 1908,  country music fans still eagerly awaited the genre’s invention. At the start of their performance, Tin Pan Alley songwriters Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer played the song that would go on to be their most famous, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” (Neither composer had ever attended a baseball game at that point.) The crowd, unprepared for the emotions the song would unleash, were driven to a frenzy that wouldn’t be seen again until early performances of Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock” nearly fifty years later. The crowd tore off for East Hambriston, which had been converted to a baseball diamond following the 1906 stampede, abandoning the festival for an impromptu ball game, which went on for sixty-seven innings. 

1927: Jimmie Rodgers Workshops “Blue Yodel” On Stage

“The Father of Country Music,” Jimmie Rodgers was in fact the twenty-eighth headlining artist to take the stage in Hambriston. During his performance that summer, he debuted the very first edition of his breakthrough song, “Blue Yodel No. 1 (T for Texas).” At the festival, of course, the tune was called “Blue Yodel No. 0,” and carried the subtitle “(H for Hambriston).”

1934: A Baby Willie Nelson Captivates the Crowd

In June 1934, Willie Nelson was just fourteen months old—already bearded, and with braids that were longer than he was tall. After a cancellation from the Skillet Lickers left a gap in the schedule, the redheaded toddler from Abbott, Texas, stepped up. Carrying a ukulele slung over his tiny shoulder, baby Willie cranked out hit after hit, delivering a rendition of “Bloody Mary Morning” that brought many in the crowd to tears. 

1956: Elvis Booed Off Stage for Spreading the Woke Mind Virus With His Hips

World War II and the postwar era were a rough time for the Jamboree, which continued uninterrupted even after every man in Hambriston was drafted into the war, with the majority of them serving in the European theater. After the surrender of the Axis forces, many resettled in Paris, resulting in the formation of a short-lived neighborhood in the southwestern part of the city known as Le Petit Hambriston. By the mid-1950s, after the Hambristonians refused to learn French, many returned home and  the Jamboree reestablished its prior prominence. An early performance by Elvis Presley presaged the reception Garth Brooks would receive some seven decades later. Accused of spreading the “woke mind virus” of his day with the swivel in his hips, the young Presley was booed off the stage; a deleted scene from Baz Luhrmann’s 2022 biopic of the King depicts the scene in full, but the sequence was deleted from HBO Max (now simply “Max”) for tax purposes in May 2023. 

1973: Willie and Waylon Dose the Entire Crowd with LSD

The 1960s and early 1970s are widely recognized as the golden age of the Jamboree, as country music luminaries jockeyed for the opportunity to headline the festival. But it’s the ill-fated 1973 festival that stands out as the turning point in the event’s history. After festival founder Wyatt T. Barron died at the age of 107, his great-grandson, Ronnie James Tiberius Barron, took over the festival’s booking. A hippie who had recently returned to Hambriston in disgrace after being expelled from the University of Texas, Barron the younger attempted to bridge the gap between the free-love crowd he’d met in Austin and the country shitkickers he’d grown up with in Hambriston. After booking recent Nashville exiles Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings to headline the festival, Barron failed to properly examine the large uncut sheets of blotter acid the artists passed out at the start of their performance. The resulting mass hallucination nearly resulted in yet another Texas Country Jamboree riot, before Jennings suggested a trip to the baseball diamond that had once been East Hambriston, where the attendees passed the time by participating in what the Guinness Book of World Records still maintains is the largest group crab race ever held. 

2001: Garth Makes His First Appearance

Garth Brooks began the twenty-first century with few worlds left to conquer. Shortly before his first appearance in Hambriston, Brooks announced his retirement upon the release of his eighth album, Scarecrow, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. Brooks would come out of retirement each and every year, of course, to headline the festival in Hambriston. Shortly before appearing for the twenty-second time, Brooks discussed his new bar, which will be opening this summer—and serving the somehow-controversial beer Bud Light, noting that “there are plenty of other places for ‘assholes’ to drink.” That brings us to last weekend, when Brooks was subjected to a torrent of boos. The 2024 edition of the festival will be headlined by Briscoe Cain, the Republican representative from Deer Park, who will spend his performance blowing into a jug and wearing a large hat. Good job, Texas, indeed! 

Editor’s note: Almost none of the above is true, although the composers of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” really hadn’t attended a baseball game before composing the song.