Downtown Hoedown Recap: ‘We Had So Much Fun!’
By Christy Strawser
DETROIT (WYCD) Comerica Park in Detroit was blessed all weekend with the best weather the region has had this year and a rocking stage that made country music fans pump their fists, stomp their boots, and grab significant others for the kind of romance that can only be experienced when all is right with the world on a soft summer night.
It was Downtown Hoedown.
The 32nd annual event was memorable, not only for the sunshine and blue skies, but for the throngs of fans who flooded the city ready to party like the longest winter in history was over. Headliners included Chris Young, Dierks Bentley, Chase Rice, Tyler Farr, Love And Theft, Kellie Pickler, Drake White, Natalie Stovall & The Drive, Jon Pardi, Craig Campbell, Big & Rich, Josh Thompson, Lindsay Ell, on stage two, and The Band Perry — on the main stage on the finale night.
How was the weekend? Verdicts were swift.
“We’ve been here every day, it’s cheap tickets for a whole weekend — we’ve had so much fun,” said Ashley Dufor, who crossed the border from a small town near Windsor to spend Hoedown weekend at Comerica with her twin sister Amanda.
Nichole Thomas of Lincoln Park joined the meet and greet lines for Kellie Pickler, Dierks Bentley, Tyler Farr, and the Swon Brothers — and snagged all four.
“Tyler Farr was amazing,” she said. “Dierks — I couldn’t talk, I started to stutter and he was so nice, he said, ‘You’re cute … Kellie Pickler was so sweet.”
Pal Jennifer Perez was waiting to meet The Swon Brothers, and couldn’t wait to see Big & Rich and The Band Perry, Sunday’s headliners. “I can’t wait for ‘If I Die Young,'” she said. And she wasn’t disappointed.
Stephanie Kazmer of Eastpointe bought Taylor Masch of Eastpointe Hoedown tickets for Sunday as an early birthday gift. They joined the throng of people waiting at the Ram truck display to test drive a truck for VIP pit passes. How long were they willing to wait?
“Forever, as long as it takes,” Kazmer said, laughing, and saying she couldn’t wait to catch Big & Rich and The Band Perry on the same stage. “I’m super excited.”
Ashley Reid-Sabuda wrote on Facebook after the Love And Theft performance: “Omg! He did an awesome show tonight. Wasn’t a fan of love and theft and they kicked butt as well and made me fan! AWESOME show tonight!!!!!”
Recapping Saturday night, Marisa DeLuca wrote, “Had so much fun! Loved the downtown hoedown the past two nights!”
So, who was the favorite performer of the weekend? It depends on whom you ask.
Jennifer Ritchie voted for both Chase Rice and Dierks Bentley; Samantha Haleks voted for The Brothers Osborne; Wendy Stewart cast her vote for Dierks.
Perhaps there were just too many options because Kevin Collins summed it up this way. “The line up was SICK!” he wrote on Facebook.
Nearly everyone on stage took time to pay homage to the musically storied city they were in, whether it was Love And Theft doing a rendition of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” or Drake White proclaiming he loved the “indomitable spirit of Detroit.” Backstage, Dierks Bentley said he loved the face that at Comerica Park he can talk about two of his great loves — hockey and country music — without anyone questioning it.
And then he said something about hockey pucks that you’re going to want to see. (VIDEO)
Chase Rice, who co-wrote the biggest country digital hit of all time — “Cruise” — thanked his Detroit fans for embracing his music.
One local band took over the main stage Sunday afternoon — Gunnar & The Grizzly Boys — and said they were ecstatic to play a hometown crowd. They warned the crowd to wear sunscreen, asking, “Do any of my country boys got some tan lines out there?”
Speaking of tan lines, the dress code was, as always, eclectic. Cowboy hats mingled with baseball caps, boots with high tops — but the basic uniform seemed to include micro-size shorts with cropped tops and boots. After all, it was hot out.
And it just kept getting hotter.