After a hot weekend of IndyCar race and a full concert lineup, country music superstar Blake Shelton was impressed. Thousands of fans stayed for over an hour to see him perform at Newton on Sunday.
“I was literally terrified after two days of this, it was the last day, me being the last guy, y’all would be too tired and go home,” Shelton told an ecstatic crowd.
Creating a gig-packed weekend, Hy-Vee pulled out all the stops, enlisting country star Tim McGraw and Florida country duo Georgia Line to book the race Saturday and Sunday afternoon, Shelton’s wife, pop sensation and fellow trainer on “The Voice” Gwen Stefani, performed a 12-song set of his most famous songs.
Dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved black button-up shirt, Shelton took the stage to the beat of “Neon Light” on Sunday night after the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 presented by Google, as part of the Hy-Vee IndyCar Race Weekend at the Iowa Speedway.
Shelton introduced himself to the crowd before launching into “All About Tonight”, “Sure Be Cool If You Did” and “Honey Bee”, featuring a total of 20 songs from his discography plus an encore for devoted fans.
Before performing “Hell Right,” a fan threw a stuffed corn on the cob onto the stage, startling Shelton, who placed the smiling candy corn near his drink and slipped into “The More I Drink,” Sangria” and “Hillbilly.”
“I just want to paint a picture of what’s going on right now: it’s Sunday night, the race is over, we’re all still here, on a racetrack surrounded by soybeans. People are throwing corncob lint on the stage, blocking out the sun with paper plates,” Shelton said. “It’s real country. It’s beyond redneck, beyond hillbilly.”
Stefani often joins her husband for a duet on “Nobody But You” and “Happy Anywhere” from Shelton’s song, but she didn’t make another appearance on Sunday.
“It’s always weird when she doesn’t come sing those songs with me,” Shelton said. “She did her set and went into party mode.”
Last year, for her set at the Iowa State Fair, Shelton released Stefani – just a month after their wedding – for a surprise duet, marking the last time the couple performed in the state.
Much to the delight of the crowd, Shelton revisited hits from his 2001 self-titled album, including “Austin,” his first number-one single on the country music charts and fan-favorite “Ol’ Red.”
“I can’t believe you guys stayed here this long,” Shelton said. “What’s better than country music and the races?”
After performing “Boys’ Round Here”, Shelton briefly left the stage before returning for an encore of “God Gave Me You”.
What else happened after the IndyCar race?
Prior to Shelton’s set, Hy-Vee CEO Randy Edeker announced the winners of a food truck battle that included 50 vendors.
Kikis, a Mexican-American food truck near Newton, won a top prize of $25,000. Based in West Des Moines Totally Rolled Ice Cream won the second prize of $15,000, and based in Des Moines polish king won the third prize of $10,000.
Edeker said while the company was planning IndyCar, he specifically wanted to book Shelton for the event.
“And by God, we did,” Edeker said before Shelton took the stage.
According to information from the Associated Press, the West Des Moines-based company grocery chain spent about $10 million to improve the 7/8 mile highway, recruit weekend musical entertainment, and host events throughout the facility during IndyCar race weekend.
Hannah Rodriguez covers retail for the Des Moines Register. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @byherodriguez.