Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Detroit Downtown Hoedown

Established in 1983 by country music radio station WCXI-FM, the Detroit Downtown Hoedown was at one time one of the largest free country music festivals in the world. Since the beginning it has been known as a showcase for emerging artists including Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Toby Keith, Kid Rock and Rascal Flatts. For its first three decades, the event was held annually at Hart Plaza in Downtown Detroit.

In 1992, Gene Autry’s Golden West Broadcasters, the owners of WCXI, sold the station to Shamrock Broadcasting’s WYCD. The free event was then hosted by W4 Country before being taken over by WYCD in 2000. In 2012, WYCD began charging for admittance. The same year, the Hoedown was relocated to the area in front of Comerica Park. In 2015 the event was shortened to two days and moved to West Riverfront Park in Detroit. DTE Energy Music Theater became the next home of the event with a one-day concert on Sunday July 31, 2016, now known as the “99.5 WYCD Hoedown”. 

The 2020 iteration of the event was pushed back several months due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic. That year’s event, like many other similar events, was ultimately cancelled outright. 



Still image from U-Matic tape containing footage of 1988 Downtown Hoedown, 1988 – 2015.008.214

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