Celebrating 30 Years: Country Fest 2016 Recap

I don’t know about you, but the second the lights went down on Sam Hunt’s show Sunday night, I felt it. Post-Country Fest-Depression. An overwhelming sense of “How is it all over already?!” If you’re experiencing the same, no fear. Let’s take a look back at the best week of summer and relive the awesomeness together!

Country Fest 2016


Wednesday night’s pre-party really kicked off Country Fest right! Waterloo Revival and Tim Sigler got us all pumped for the big weekend ahead, and it was so great to see so many country-lovin’ fans fill the newly-expanded “Next From Nashville” stage.

Waterloo Revival at Country Fest 2016


The classics and the up-and-comers collided for the first full day of Country Fest 2016! Dylan Jakobsen and Caroline Kole warmed up the growing crowd beautifully. Their performances were followed by some incredible sing-a-longs from Neal McCoy!  Did you know CF2016 was Neal’s ELEVENTH time performing at the festival?! It’s not hard to see why. He loves being here just as much as we enjoy welcoming him home! Plus, what a beautiful duet with our National Anthem singer, 11-year-old Ellie Brenner! “How Great Thou Art” has never sounded so pure.

Neal McCoy at Country Fest 2016

Randy Houser. Wow. That cowboy left EVERYTHING on the stage that night. What a performance. I still get goosebumps when I replay the way the crowd sang along to “Like A Cowboy.” Thanks for coming back to Cadott, Randy!

Randy Houser at Country Fest 2016

And then…the show no one can stop talking about. Dierks Bentley! He is the KING of crowd interaction! From pulling up a fan from the pit to shotgun a beer, to donning funky sunglasses from a fan’s poster, to literally driving a plane out onto the stage for his encore…the entire concert was just a feast for the eyes and the ears! The buzz on that show just will not quit. THAT is how you entertain, folks.

Dierks Bentley at Country Fest 2016


After starting the morning with some breakfast and complimentary yoga, the tunes and good times picked up right where they left off. Chris Hawkey and Drew Baldridge brought fans to their feet! The boys from Old Dominion commanded that stage…what a blast to see them in person! And such nice, grateful guys too…signing posters WHILE singing. 🙂

Old Dominion at Country Fest 2016

The girls taking the country music world by storm, Maddie & Tae, blew us all away! What talent…and such a gift for making the show a personal one, sharing stories and interacting with the fans! Anyone who got a chance to see their acoustic campfire session backstage totally lucked out. Those are memories you’ll never forget!!

Maddie & Tae at Country Fest 2016

If you weren’t already a huge fan of Jerrod Niemann’s, you definitely became one after his visit to Country Fest 2016. We heard so many wonderful things about how laidback, personal and grateful he was during his concert, meet ‘n’ greets and backstage “Ring Of Fire” acoustic set. Plus, he even picked a lucky winner to join him on the bus for a drink and cornhole. How cool!!! (BTW, these are the amazing, exclusive experiences you can win by following us on social media!!)

Jerrod Niemann at Country Fest 2016

Finally on Friday, usher in NO SHOES NATION! Kenny Chesney is the reigning champ of stadium tour performances…and he brought his ‘A’ game to Country Fest. It was a rare festival stop for the country star and we were so honored to have him here to celebrate our 30th anniversary! The hits kept coming and coming…anyone else lose their voice after singing along into the night?! Thanks for bringing the beach to Cadott, Kenny. 🙂



Holy packed lineup, Batman. Saturday was insane with the likes of Jake Worthington, Brooke Eden, Jana Kramer, Frankie Ballard…



Kip Moore steamed up the show with his performance!!  Excuse me while I catch my breath…I know a few fans who have new computer/phone backgrounds after that show. And what he said about putting down the cell phones and having a moment all together while he played his brand new tune?! LOVE. IT.


The excitement had been building all day for her to take the stage…and to the delight of thousands and thousands of fans, Carrie Underwood donned her Willie Nelson tank, blue jean shorts and cowboy boots and put on one hell of a show. There wasn’t one person in the crowd who wasn’t singing along to the deluge of hits that prove the star worthy of the “Queen of Country” title. It’s almost unbelievable to hear her impeccable voice…but to watch her dance around the stage without missing a note?! That is a talented woman who’s blossomed into country music royalty since her American Idol days!




The girls kicked off the last day of Country Fest with a bang! Newbies Elizabeth Lyons and Abi Ann absolutely shone on the main stage! After a nap in the new Hammock Haven, fans were treated to the delicious musical stylings of Mo Pitney. And the always entertaining Phil Vassar showed off his piano chops and classics from his decades-long country music career!



Back by popular demand, the man who literally oozes country livin’, Chase Rice! We fell in love after his performance at Country Fest 2015 and we were ecstatic to get him back for our big 30th Anniversary! This time around, a lucky girl was pulled up on stage for an up-close-and-personal serenade of “Ride.” Um…HOT.


Finally, our party was capped off with a big ol’ “House Party.” The one and only Sam Hunt! The best part about Sam is that he can literally pull off ANY kind of country…he’s amazing acoustic and can also put a modern twist on his music, revolutionizing the industry. Plus, he’s an insane writer…you’ll find his byline on tons of songs on the radio right now. What a treat to have him at our anniversary celebration – thank you Sam for keeping the night on!!!


THANK YOU ALL for joining us for the party of the summer and for helping us to create this incredible festival 30 years ago!! It’s because of YOU that we get to spend a summer week together, jamming to the biggest names in country music, relaxing with friends, making memories and forming relationships that last a lifetime.

By the way – did you get a chance to experience Cheers Pablo art classes? The zip line? Our numerous photo ops on the concert grounds? If not (and especially if you did!), be sure to check out our growing photo galleries on our Country Fest Facebook page!  Tag yourself and your friends!

And mark your calendars now…June 22-25…because we just happen to have Blake Shelton and Thomas Rhett swinging by for a visit to next year’s Fest! Buy those VIP and Reserved Lawn seats now, because they’re flyin’. VIP Gold is already SOLD OUT! Get here now and get your spot saved –> www.countryfest.com.


Amie Winters

Amie Winters

Amie Winters recently traded in a nearly 10-year career in television broadcasting to join the amazing crew at Chippewa Valley Music Festivals. She's thrilled to be a part of the team bringing you the best fests in the Midwest!