CMA Fest has become a summer tradition for my brother and I. We attended our first CMA Fest in 2008 and our eleventh this year! Things have definitely changed since the first few festivals that we attended but we still have lots of fun.
We started CMA Fest week with Carrie Underwood’s party at the Grand Ole Opry. She is always so great to her fans and I love seeing her when she plays smaller more intimate sets.
The CMT Awards are always held on the Wednesday before CMA Fest begins. This year we went with friends who have never attended an awards show before and we all got wristbands to stand in a special area on stage! My mom texted me photos that she took of the TV that showed us standing behind the artists as they accepted their awards. It was so much fun!
The festival officially started on Thursday and we arrived at Nissan stadium to park the vehicle around 10:30 am. We had just enough time to hop on the bus and get to the Riverfront stage to see Lauren Alaina play her set. After watching her we left and made our way down Broadway stopping to visit the various vendor and sponsor booths scattered down the street. We walked through Hall of Fame Park on our way to the Music City Center where Fan Fair X was.
Before we entered the building we got in line to pick up our free clear CMA Fest backpacks. All of the areas at the festival this year had a clear bag policy for security and all four-day pass holders got a free clear backpack. Once inside, we stopped by the registration counter so that Christian could claim his Maddie & Tae performance tickets. A couple of weeks before CMA Fest began we had entered drawings for meet & greets as well as special performances. Christian won two passes to see Maddie & Tae perform a set at the HGTV Lodge on Sunday and he had to have his pass scanned to claim the tickets.
One new thing at the entrance of Fan Fair X this year was this photo wall. All throughout the weekend photos that were posted on Instagram and Twitter and tagged with #itstartswithMe and #MusicMadePossible were printed out and stuck on this wall to make this photo wall mural. It was really incredible! They also gave us copies of the photos that they printed out. We stood at the wall for at least 10 minutes trying to find our photos but never did!
Fan Fair X is always full of booths from record labels, artists, vendors, sponsors, stores, and boutiques. You could spend hours inside visiting each booth and many of them have games that you can play or drawings that you can enter to win prizes. We always end up leaving with bags full of merch, prizes, and freebies that are being given out. This year the Universal Records booth had a Carrie Underwood Cry Pretty booth set up where makeup artists were applying glitter tears. On Saturday our friend Desiree was with us and she decided to get them and we joked with Christian that he should too…and he did! Those of you who know my brother will not be surprised but for those who don’t, he has not one embarrassing bone in his body and will do anything for a laugh including walking around CMA Fest with purple glitter tears!
American Idol had a booth set up this year where we all won headphones and fans made from cutouts of the judges’ faces! We had fun taking photos with those fans and everyone was stopping us to ask where we got them from. They looked freakishly real even though they were laminated cutouts.
The concerts at Nissan Stadium started around 7:45 pm each night and so we would go home in the afternoons to change and freshen up before the night shows. I had plans to bring my big camera to the night concerts to get good photos but it wouldn’t hold a charge so I had to settle for my phone. I ended up taking a bunch of videos on my phone of the performances and I put together a small recap of most of the artists in the video below.