The Country Stampede Music Festival is an outdoor country music and camping festival held at Heartland Motorsports Park, south of Topeka, Kansas.
Formerly the Country Stampede Music Festival, the Heartland Stampede Music Festival held in Topeka, Kansas, brings together some of country music’s biggest stars for three days of music, dancing, food and camping at Heartland Motorsports Park. This popular music festival is the largest in the state and is usually held the third week of June. While you’re here for the best of country music, explore the capital city of Kansas too. Check out an eye-catching collection of colorful art and storytelling at The Great Mural Wall of Topeka, or set off on a scenic hike into an untouched prairie habitat at Iliff Commons.
The festival has been held annually since 1996, historically on the last weekend in June (except in 2020 when it was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic).
The festival was held at Tuttle Creek State Park outside Manhattan, Kansas, from its founding in 1996 to 2018. The 2019 festival was moved to Topeka, initially due to potential flood conditions at Tuttle Creek Lake. Organizers announced the move would be permanent on June 20, 2019. Organizers also announced the name of the festival was changed to Heartland Stampede in advance of the 2020 festival. Like many large scale events, the festival was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the festival would once again be named Country Stampede and had a successful 3-day event despite poor weather. Organizers announced on October 19th, 2021 that the 2022 festival would be moved to the month of July to attempt to avoid the history of severe weather during the event.
Country Stampede in Manhattan (1996–2018)
The Country Stampede festival was the largest annual music festival in Kansas while in Manhattan. Total combined attendance for all days exceeded 170,000 – in 2012 it was approximately 175,000. The record for largest single-day attendance was set on June 23, 2012, when an estimated 55,000 fans watched Toby Keith perform.
The festival began as a three-day weekend event, and then for several years was expanded to a four-day format, lasting from Thursday through Sunday. Camping was common for attendees, and 2,400 camp sites were available on the grounds. Vendors, and many activities were also present at the festival.
Starting in 2016, the festival reverted to a three-day format. The Thursday night kickoff party was expanded into a full-day format, while Sunday was dropped from the weekend. Festival President Wayne Rouse said the decision would allow attendees a day off to recover and travel. The new format was well-received, and Rouse indicated the change would be permanent.
During this time, a sister festival was held at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky in 2003 and 2004.
Country Stampede in Topeka (2019–present)
Move to Topeka and 2019 festival
In May 2019, after severe rains caused increased water levels at Tuttle Creek Lake Dam, the organizers of Country Stampede announced on their Facebook page that the festival would move to Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka for the June 2019 event as a measure to “ensure all of [the] concert goers will be out of harm’s way”.
Despite reassurances from the festival organizers on their FAQ page that the event would not permanently move from Manhattan, on June 20th, hours before the festival began, Country Stampede officials and leaders from the City of Topeka announced that the festival would permanently move to Heartland Motorsports Park for three additional years, renaming the festival to “Heartland Stampede”, and terminating their contract with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism to host the event at Tuttle Creek Lake State Park.
2019 headline performer Jason Aldean was forced to cancel his show due to severe weather.
Planned 2020 festival and cancellation
In September of 2019, officials from the festival announced that Toby Keith, Luke Combs, and Cody Johnson would be the headlining performers for the 2020 festival, which was scheduled to take place from June 25th through the 27th.
In March of 2020, Heartland Stampede announced through their Facebook page that a local credit union, Azura, had become the new title sponsor for the 2020 festival.
In April, organizers stated that the event would still go on, but later backpedaled and cancelled the event entirely due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Kansas, even after attempting to reschedule the event. An FAQ from the event stated that tickets purchased for the 2020 event would be automatically transferred to the 2021 event, unless purchasers accessed a form and requested a refund between the cancellation date of April 30th and May 31st.
In September 2020, the event, now renamed to “Country Stampede at the Heartland”, announced that it would be partnering with a local company, VAERUS Aviation, to bring an airshow called “Thunder Over the Heartland” to the event on the final day of the 2021 festival, June 26th, as well as an additional day on Sunday the 27th, with attendees to Country Stampede receiving free shuttle transport between Heartland Motorsports Park and Topeka Regional Airport for the airshow, the 190th Air Refueling Wing based at Topeka Regional would be participating, as well as that individual tickets would go on sale immediately for people wishing to see the airshow, but are not attending the festival. The announcement also included an announcement that headlining artists at the 2021 event would be Luke Combs, Morgan Wallen, and Riley Green.