iHeartCountry Festival: Let’s Take A Look Back
2014 was a time of the Winter Olympics, the FIFA World Cup, and season 4 of Game of Thrones. It was also the year of the inaugural iHeartCountry Festival in Austin, TX. Since then, Austin has hosted some of the hottest country stars of the day right here at the Frank Erwin Center each year.
In a press release introducing the new iHeartCountry Festival, John Sykes, Clear Channel President of Entertainment Enterprises, touted the first-ever festival as iHeart’s answer to the enthusiasm of country fans sweeping the nation. “The response to our country performers at the last three iHeartRadio Music Festivals was so incredible we decided to create an entire show just for them,” said Sykes. He added, “it will be a country fan’s dream and a testament to the power of country music and recognition of the stature of these artists.”
In 2015, iHeart DJ Bobby Bones had a surprise for headliner Tim McGraw, due to McGraw’s 48th birthday only a day before the concert. The crowd delivered a rousing rendition of the birthday song during his set, led by Bones. Subsequently, McGraw was joined by Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild for a duet performance of “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools.” Altogether, it was a memorable ending to the second-ever iHeartCountry event.
New in 2016, the Daytime Village kicked off the third annual iHeartCountry Festival. The free daytime event held at the Erwin Center’s North Box Office Plaza featured live performances, fan zones and interactive experiences. Along with the afternoon fun, the inaugural Daytime Village spotlighted a special announcement. The City of Austin officially declared Saturday, April 30, 2016 as “iHeartCountry Day” in Austin, TX! The announcement was made by Gavin Garcia, Austin Music Commission Chair.
The 2017 iHeartCountry Festival featured another star-studded lineup including Jason Aldean, Little Big Town and Dierks Bentley. As these celebrities and more walked the red carpet before the show, fans were treated to a little Texas surprise. UT’s costumed mascot Hook’Em walked the red carpet and greeted fans along with the performers! He also made an appearance at the Daytime Village before the main show.
There were surprise collabs aplenty during the 2018 Festival! From Luke Bryan bringing out Cole Swindell for a duet, to Bobby Bones himself crashing the Sugarland set, this year was full of memorable moments. In addition to his surprise stage cameo, Bones participated in another double act with new cohost Candace Cameron Bure (“Full House”). The Erwin Center also welcomed “Walmart Yodel Boy” Mason Ramsey. The internet star performed his signature viral song as well as a new single.
The sixth annual iHeartCountry Festival in 2019 brought another countryfied weekend to Austin. A group photo taken for “People” magazine illustrated the star-studded lineup. Artists included Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town, Dan + Shay, Luke Combs, Old Dominion, Lauren Alaina and many more. One especially standout moment was when fans were treated to a cover of the highly singalong-able Shania Twain hit “I Feel Like a Woman” by Alaina, Tenille Townes and Caylee Hammack.
The 2020 iHeartCountry Festival, originally scheduled for May 2, is postponed at the Frank Erwin Center. We want to thank our country fans for their extraordinary patience as organizers work to reschedule our yearly celebration of all things country. With this in mind, we’ve put together a playlist featuring 2020 performers for you to enjoy at home. Along with you, we are counting down the days until we can be together again!