EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Capital Hoedown CEO Denis Benoit

Capital Hoedown Country Music Festival added an all-genre superstar to its line-up this week. Nine-time GRAMMY award winner Sheryl Crow will be opening for Brad Paisley on August 12th, 2012 at Ottawa’s Biggest Summer Party. She joins an already incredible line-up that features Reba McEntire, Ronnie Dunn, The Band Perry, Terri Clark, and Taylor Swift. Concert International CEO Denis Benoit spoke to us over the phone this afternoon to answer some popular questions sent in by fans including what to expect from the venue change in 2012. Read our exclusive interview below and get ready for one of the biggest country music festivals in North America:

What can fans expect from the venue change in 2012?

Fans can expect a much less crowded environment. Walter Baker Park is a much larger than Lebreton Flats park where we held the event this year. Parking will be much simpler and we will have a great transit system in place for people who want to use public transit. In terms of the overall site itself, it’s probably one of the most beautiful and well-kept parks that I’ve ever seen. It’s gorgeous. It’s really a beautiful venue.

How have ticket sales been going this year?

They have been going incredibly well. We’ve surpassed what our preliminary estimations were. You know, the ones we do right out of the gate. Tickets are selling extremely well.

One of the big questions I’ve been seeing, and been asked about, is about the VIP sections in 2012. Will they be different than this year’s layout?

Yes. The VIP areas have changed. We basically have two VIP sections. The VIP Front-And-Centre zone is located directly in front of the stage. It has a very limited capacity. There is private restroom facilities, private food and beverage concessions, a private VIP entrance. It’s quite similar to what the VIP C zone was last year. The most notable change to the VIP sections is that there is no longer a VIP A or B on stage left or right; they’ve been meshed into one VIP area which is the Crazy Horse VIP Corral – sponsored by Crazy Horse out in Kanata. It’ll provide a much more relaxed atmosphere. People can bring a chair, sit down; they’re going to have their own private food and beverage concessions, their own private restrooms, and, again their own private VIP entrance to the festival.

Capital Hoedown is the first North American date for Taylor Swift in 2012. How has the reception been for her?

It’s been overwhelming. Taylor’s not only the biggest country artist – she’s the biggest artist in the world period in any genre of music. She won Entertainer of the Year at the CMA awards a few weeks back, she won Entertainer of the Year again at the American Music Awards which is basically the awards for everyone in all genres of music – not just country. She played 98 shows this year on her world tour, and every one of them sold out in minutes. Nothing really ever gets bigger than Taylor.

You just added Sheryl Crow to the line-up, how has the reception for her been and can fans expect more additions to the Hoedown soon?

Yes, there will be some more additions. We still have to announce the opening artist for Taylor Swift. That’ll be happening in the next couple of months. We’re super, super excited about Sheryl Crow. She’s one of the most influential music artists of our generation. She’s a nine-time GRAMMY award winner, and everybody knows who she is. She might not be a stereotypical ‘country’ artist, but she is going to be releasing a country album later on in 2012. She’s had all kinds of country songs throughout her career – one with Kid Rock for “Picture.” That was one of the biggest hits of recent memory.

What would you consider to be the number one thing you’ve learned coming from the last two years?

We asked the fans who they wanted to see, and what we could do to make it more an enjoyable experience. We read every mail that comes in and we try to accommodate every request that we can. This year, I think it’ll be much more polished. We’re gonna pay close attention to what we do on site in terms of on-site activities. We want people to want to go out there so that they could enjoy the whole day; not just stay there for a concert. We want to provide fans with other areas of excitement as well. I just think that we had a great year this year, the line-up was fabulous, Lebreton Flats park was full, you’re gonna see a lot of the same stuff this year, but overall I think it’s going to be a much more enjoyable experience overall. I think the new venue is key.

You have a lot of Canadian acts once again this year. How important is it to you to continue to promote Canadian talent?

It’s very important to promote Canadian acts! We’re a Canadian company, it’s a Canadian country music festival, and we definitely want to support as many Canadian country music artists that we can.

Anything else fans should know about the festival this time around?

If you want to attend Capital Hoedown 2012 get your tickets now. They’re selling fast and I can’t really make a prediction on when we will sell out, but I will go on the record to say that the festival will sell-out this year. If you don’t want to miss your opportunity visit capitalhoedown.net and get your tickets today.


The 2012 edition of Capital Hoedown takes place in Walter Baker Park in Ottawa, Ontario Canada. Named “Ottawa’s Biggest Summer Party,” next year’s takes place August 10th through to the 12th. See the full line-up at capitalhoedown.net, with additional acts to be announced in the coming months. Which act are you most excited to see? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or even right here!

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A 26 year-old Canadian girl currently living in England for a culinary career. Fell in love with country music and cooking at a young age, and looks for a way to do both.