A hoedown is a square dance, or a gathering where a square dance is featured. The word is commonly used to describe any country or hillbilly type gathering, generally one with fiddle and banjo music. Hoedowns were originally harvest festivals of sorts, a gathering held in the fall as the crops were brought in. The farmers who attended would put their hoes down and come to a dance, hence the word "hoedown".
Hoedown is also used to describe a certain type of country/folk music as well. In order for the music to fit together smoothly with the square dance caller, the tunes must have a certain beat. Hoedown songs are based around four beat phrases, with the accent on the first beat. If you tap your foot to the music of a hoedown song and count, it will sound like this:
ONE, two, three, four, etc
In old time fiddle contests
, a hoedown tune is often mandatory. Some of the hoedown songs that are more familiar include Turkey in the Straw
, Orange Blossom Special
, and Rocky Top Tennessee