Country for a Cause


February 29, 2020, Dierks Bentley headlined a leap year show at the CHI Health Center, nearly exactly one year after he was last in Omaha, but something this time was different. Bentley, along with openers Hardy and Gabby Barrett, was brought to town by Woodhouse as a part of their Backpack Program in collaboration with Food Band for the Heartland. 

Bentley, an ACM Male Artist of the Year nominee, filled his set with some of his most well-known songs, like“What Was I Thinking”, “Somewhere on a Beach”, “Black” and “Living”, that kept the audience’s energy up the whole night. Stage presence is everything for a performer and he did nothing to disappoint as he danced around, and even crowd surfed towards the end of his set. 

As the first opener, Gabby Barrett, 19-year-old, third place winner from season 16 of American Idol wowed the crowd with her Carrie Underwood-like vocals as she played originals, like “I Hope” that has over 46 million streams on Spotify, and covers from Shania Twain, Maren Morris, and Guns N’ Roses. Her husband, Cade Foehner, who made it to the top five on the same season of American Idol, accompanied Barrett on stage playing guitar. 

Next up, Hardy brought nothing less than a party. With a gritty, rock-type flair, the crowd was on their feet during the whole set. Along with originals off his two albums, he also played a few of the songs he has written/helped in writing for other artists like Blake Shelton’s “God’s Country”, and Morgan Wallen’s “Up Down” ft. Florida Georgia Line. His hits include “One Beer” ft. Lauren Alaina, which is set to be released to country radio,  and “Rednecker”. 

As one of the few shows scheduled for Bentley this year, February 29 was clearly something special. Coming out on stage in a Nebraska shirt and sporting a fan’s Woodhouse hat for a portion of the show, it was clear that he valued the purpose of the set he was playing. 

Woodhouse has made a monumental impact on Midwest communities through its support of the Backpack program over the past 11 years. Focused on Nebraska and Western Iowa, the program provides food for the 1 in 6 kids at risk for hunger without regular access to food when not at school.  Each backpack contains two breakfast meals, two entrees, shelf-stable milk, a juice box, and a snack item, which totals to about four dollars. This may not seem like a huge expense, but when 8,300 backpacks are given away weekly, it starts to add up. This is where fundraising through sponsorships, where a child can be supported for an entire school year for $160,  and the annual concert, where all profits go into the program, come into play. 

Past years have hosted artists like Jake Owen in 2018 and Jordan Davis, Mitchell Tenpenny and Old Dominion in 2019, but this was “the most impressive year” as just under $1 million was raised. 

To attend the concert, a donation ranging from $40-$225 would get you a ticket, amounts determined by where seats were located in the arena. This was a new feature for this year’s concert as, previously, donations of $160 would provide for 2 tickets, seats determined by how soon donations were made. For reference, an $85 donation would get a seat in the back half of the floor or seat in the front of the lower bowl. 

In a room full of boots, beer and mullets, it is clear that the crowd was ready to have a good time for a good cause.

To donate to Woodhouse gives and the Backpack Program visit