Last year, I found myself in Calgary during the Stampede, the quintessential country event in Canada. Inspired by Mr. Fabulous’ adventure, this year I thought I would take on the challenge and release my own inner country boy by experiencing the 3-day country music festival Boots and Hearts, in Ontario.  After a fun music-filled weekend, I’ve come up with a list of 5 things you can do to release your inner country boy or girl.

5. The Grub: Food is always a way to a man’s heart. Country boys and girls love their southern-style cooking.  At the festival there was an array of foods, but I was drawn to the slow-cooked pulled pork. Full of flavor, it’s a great choice to get you through a day in the country.

4. Your Swagger: In order to play the part, and own the part, one must really look the part. Every country boy or girl, despite how casual they may be, has their own sense of fashion. Blue jeans and plaid shirts are a great staple to build your country wardrobe, but a true measure of country style is in the accessories: the headwear, the boots and the belt with a large buckle. At Boots and Hearts, there was an even split between mesh-back trucker hats and cowboy hats.  I went with a classic black cowboy hat paired with a plaid shirt and blue jeans.

3. The Bull:  A classic test of strength and will, the mechanical bull is a fun way to show off your rodeo skills without having to ride an actual animal.  A little apprehensive, I rode the bull and was thrown off in 8 seconds. Check out this video of my friend Sara’s impressive attempt.

2. The Music: Featured throughout the event on two stages, Boots and Hearts managed to lock down some truly outstanding acts for their inaugural year! Artists included: Big and Rich, Tim McGraw, Sheryl Crow, Alabama, Kid Rock, Terri Clark, Paul Brandt, Lionel Ritchie and Carrie Underwood.  Not even the rain could stop decked-out fans from gathering together to sing along and enjoy the performances.  The crowd even enjoyed a special ‘surprise performance’ from Dean Brody whose set was hauled-in on a flatbed.

1. The Ride:  For the weekend, I drove a F-150 Harley Davidson Edition – likely the biggest vehicle I’ve ever driven. It was a solid ride, packed with a whole bunch of features. The sturdy 4×4 really made me feel safe on the gravel back roads and the styling screamed country. At the festival, we spotted quite a number of F-150 pickup trucks and also learned that singer Paul Brandt owns and drives one himself.

So pony up, and follow these simple tips to get in touch with your down home county side! We’ll be waiting by the barn.

Do you have a favorite country festival?  Let us know in the comments!