Events Music

THE HOOFBEAT GOES ON: Country Fest Changes Name, But Promises to Stay Close to Roots

new name of longtime local music fest draws mixed reaction

Tom Giffey |

HOOFIN' IT TO CADOTT. The crowd at Country Fest, which has been renamed Hoofbeat. (Submitted photo)
HOOFIN' IT TO CADOTT. The crowd at Country Fest, which has been renamed Hoofbeat Festival. (Submitted photo)

After 37 years, the music that echoed over a Chippewa County hayfield late Saturday night was the last that will ever be heard at Country Fest.

Don’t worry: The massive annual country music shindig will be back for its 38th installment next June. But the tens of thousands of fans who gather next summer won’t be there for Country Fest. Instead, the festival has been rebranded as “Hoofbeat,” a name that organizers want to trample along familiar paths as well as in surprising new directions.

The name change, which was announced on the festival’s last day, follows five years of conversations and a year and a half of market analysis, festival promotor Wade Asher said in an interview.

“The main two reasons are being able to give our fans more and better experiences, and because there are so many other ‘Country Fests’ in the United States,” he said.

When the festival was founded in 1987, Asher explained, it was just the third county music festival in the nation, so differentiating a brand wasn’t a concern. “Unfortunately,” he said, “that name is so generic, it’s untrademarkable.” These days, there are a half dozen other “Country Fests” around the nation, from Ohio to Florida. A new name will presumably help set Hoofbeat apart.

Plus, the name Hoofbeat evokes the vibes of Wisconsin’s countryside, from the hooves of Holsteins and horses to white-tailed deer.

“We needed a name where we can really hone in on our roots,” Asher explained, noting the festival has called itself “The country’s largest party in a hayfield” for several years. Along with the new name, Asher promised the festival will have some new surprises for fans next year (stay tuned).

“Some will say ‘How do you get any better?’ and I will say ‘I’ll show you,’ ” he quipped.

Asher acknowledged that the announcement generated plenty of feedback from fans. “I think it’s all great,” he said. “The fans that immediately get it and understand it, they’re like, ‘OK, cool, now we have something to look forward to, some new surprises for next year.’ ”

But change can be hard, and Asher knows other fans may be hesitant about the new name because they don’t want to lose what they’ve come to expect over the years. “This is a fan-forward company,” Asher said. “We listen to every fan, and we listen to everything they say, even though some of it kind of hurts.”

Comments on the Country Fest/Hoofbeat Facebook page ran the gamut between love, hate, and indifference:

“I'm with ya Hoof Beat!” Declared one of the first comments. “Keep the roots alive and stand out from the rest! Best run festival in the nation!”

“I know NoOnE who likes this idea,” raged another. “why take from the legacy of an amazing festival?? I'm not a Hoofer. I AM a FESTER!!”

Stated a third fan: “It’s not the name it’s the experience that matters! You can have fun at any good festival no matter what the name is!”

Asher knows many fans will continue to call it Country Fest. In fact, the new logo includes both names – “Hoofbeat” and Country Fest.”

Whatever country music lovers call it, they’ll be gathering in a hayfield outside Cadott June 26-28, 2025, for three days of hoof-stomping fun.