I attended the CMA Festival. It wasn’t my first time and I am sure it won’t be my last. I remember when the CMA Festival was called Fan Fair and was held at the Fair Grounds. I thought it was pretty cool to have it all at one place. It just seemed more convenient to me but I digress.
Looking at the Festival through the eyes of a fan
The first thing I noticed was the excitement literally rising from the skin of the fans that were running around here and there trying to be in all places at the same time. I decided I would put myself in their shoes and try looking at this festival through the eyes of a first time attendee. The Music City Center is where they have the meets and greets and Exhibition booths for the artists. I noticed that Taylor Swift basically took up a whole row of booths between her clothes line and another booth which actually showcases costume she has worn on stage. I thought to myself, that girl must be a size 0. That was confirmed by someone manning her booth that shall remain nameless. Other than Taylor, I saw a couple of booths from Stars from the past like Ray Stevens and Kix Brooks. The other booths were built and occupied by rising stars who were more than happy to shake your hand, sign autographs and talk to you. Many stayed in their booths all days with breaks for meals and interviews in the press room. I enjoyed my conversations with them. They were all very sweet. There were things there I did not expect like a Budweiser Bar, literally a portable bar Budweiser was brought in and people were indeed sitting on bar stools drinking. Jack Daniels also had a booth and some really cool assorted flavors of Jacks for sale. They had a really nice photographer there who was taking pictures for free. I got my photo taken again thinking, why not, that is what the country music fan is doing today.
Major Label Stars
The major label stars were scheduled to stop by some of the bigger business booths but only on certain days and certain times. It seems to me years ago at the fair grounds the major artists showed up more and stayed longer but I could be wrong. There were 2 stages in the City Center on opposite sides of the exhibition hall with events happening simultaneously.
Billy Ray Cyrus and the production team and entire cast for his new movie, “Like a Country Song”, were there promoting the movie and inviting people to the premier later on in the day. There was a short Q & A, some autograph signings from the front of the big stage and it was over. Meanwhile, on the other stage across the exhibition a country duo was performing. All in all, it ran rather smoothly. I took pictures like a fan would, which I have attached to this article.
They did have food and beverages in different areas but it was all pretty pricey. It smelled heavenly in there and I later learned it was because of a cupcake vendor and a vendor selling cinnamon coated almonds.
There were all kinds of merchandise for sale and some of the stuff was really nice. Some vendors accepted credit cards, a few were cash only. I would advise folks attending next year’s event to set a budget and bring cash and leave the credit cards home.
They did have security check points and no matter how many times you came in and out of the exhibition hall, your bags were checked. Interestingly enough, since this is music city, the security guards used drum sticks to conduct theirs searches in bags, backpacks and purses. In this day and age it is sadly necessary and it helped to insure everyone would have a happy and safe time at the 2014 Country Music Association Festival formerly known as Fan Fair.
I met a lot of great people and have many wonderful conversations with everyday people, up and coming stars and super stars. I had a great couple of days viewing the CMA Fest through the eyes of a first timer. I would do it all again and I am sure many other people that attended the event are saying the same thing.
Be sure to check out the video and the slide show of all the photographs I took while I was inside the City Center.