CMA Fest 2011

This past June, for the second year in a row, I attended the CMA Music Festival in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee. Organized by the Country Music Association, half of the CMA Fest net proceeds are donated to benefit music education through the Keep the Music Playing program. The festival has also aided flood relief efforts in 2010, as well as many other charitable causes. CMA Fest began as “Fan Fair” in 1972 and for the past 40 years the event has remained rooted with the goal to engage and connect fans with their favorite country music artists. More than 65,000 people flock to Music City from far and wide with their families and friends for four unforgettable days of what is considered the ultimate country music fan experience. LP Field, home to the Tennessee Titans, serves as the home to CMA Fest for the four nights of the festival as big name headliners perform for a packed stadium night after night. However, the fun begins in the morning each day as seven other smaller stages throughout downtown entertain festival goers leading up to the nighttime shows at the stadium. Besides the 400+ performing artists that make up the CMA Fest bill each year, the event also offers a wide range of activities including autograph signings in the convention center, where fans can escape the heat and meet country music’s finest, a festival kickoff parade down Broadway, a celebrity softball game, celebrity auctions, and multiple activity areas, such as the Family Zone, Sports Zone, and the Fun Zone.

After two memorable trips to CMA Fest, I would consider myself a seasoned expert at this point and have a few helpful tips to offer to festival newbies:

  • Never underestimate the power of caffeine to kickstart your long festival day, but also never underestimate the power of WATER. Nashville in June is HOT and the days are LONG. Don’t let dehydration ruin your experience. Carry a water bottle and refill it throughout the day. Vendors are overpriced just like at any sort of event, so save yourself the dollar and hassle.
  • You are on your feet All. Day. Long. Let’s be honest, country music isn’t always a fashion statement… but you can still look cute while being practical. You WILL be walking more than you’ll ever be able to anticipate. WEAR COMFY SHOES!!! Blisters are preventable, remember that.
  • Honky Tonks: Pace yourself. That’s all I’ve got to say.
  • Sunscreen: Don’t be stupid. WEAR IT. Redneck, I am talking to YOU.
  • There are many other events going on around town throughout the duration of CMA Fest that may not be associated or affiliated with the actual festival, so do your research. Examples: fan club parties, discounted tours, promotional events, smaller shows at various venues and bars, etc.

I really had no idea what I was getting myself into the first time I attended CMA Fest and I survived just fine! If you’ve been thinking about making the pilgrimage to Music City for this larger than life event and celebration, GO FOR IT! The party continues June 7-10, 2012 and tickets are on sale now!

My iMovie creation documenting our shenanigans at CMA Fest 2011. Enjoy!

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