May 31, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Great weather, music bring hundreds downtown for hoedown

Detroit — The hot, sunny weather welcomed hundreds to downtown Detroit Saturday evening for the city’s annual celebration of country music.

With a backdrop of cowboy hats and boots, trucks and beer, 16 acts took to three stages. Although many of the performers were relative unknowns, it didn’t stop attendees from enjoying the tunes early in the afternoon.

“The atmosphere is good,” said Sharon Manning of Troy, who attended with friends. “As long as any country music is playing in the background, I’m coming to Hoedown.”

Dozens of vendors sold hats, belts and t-shirts to concert-goers.

Will Tyra and Jessica McLelland of Dearborn Heights checked out a booth with cowboy hats that were replicas of the ones worn by famous artists like Kenny Chesney and Trace Adkins.

The two came early to hear as many acts as they could.

“Hopefully, we’ll find a new band,” said McLelland, who says she is a big country music fan. “It just makes me think of summertime, being with friends, being happy.”

South Lyon up-and-commer Alexa Spierling and her band were tasked with kicking off the hoedown Saturday. Her upbeat country tunes and clap-along beats got the crowd pumped up and prepared for some of the more well-known acts of the evening: Kellie Pickler (6:15-7:15 p.m.), Love & Theft (8-9:15 p.m.) and Tyler Farr (9:45-11:15 p.m.)

“I was very surprised to be asked to perform here,” said Spierling, 17, who was crowned “South Lyon Idol” when she was 10 years old and has been singing ever since. “Just to get people excited for the hoedown, I kind of took that on as my job since I was opening up.”

Spierling, who just graduated high school, has been traveling to Nashville to record music, and she plans to continue singing country even as she attends Schoolcraft College.

“It fits my voice,” said Spierling. “The whole industry of country music and all the fans are so much more welcoming.”

The Downtown Hoedown continues in the parking lots around Comerica Park Saturday evening and on Sunday from 2-10 p.m. Among the acts scheduled to perform sunday are Gunnar & the Grizzly Boys (2:15-3 p.m), Cadillac Three (3:30-4:15 p.m.), Swon Brothers, (4:45-5:30 p.m.), Craig Campbell (6-6:45 p.m), Big & Rich (7:15-8:15 p.m and The Band Perry (8:45-10 p.m)

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Austin Webb sings "Slip On By" at the Main stage during WYCD Downtown Hoedown on Saturday at Comerica Park. / John M. Galloway / Special to The Detroit News