Although, this week has come and gone just as fast as it always does, the memories that were made will stay will me for far longer.
From rain to humidity. Long lines, late nights and early mornings. Meeting new friends, strengthening bonds with old friends. CMA Fest always proves to be my favorite week out of the year. I have been attending every year since 2009.
The festival runs Thursday through Sunday the first week of June. My week typically starts on Tuesday with the Carrie Underwood fan club party and the two Tuesday night Grand Ole Opry shows. Carrie’s fan club party is my favorite way to kick off the week since I get to spend the morning with one of my favorite artists as well as seeing friends that I may only get to see once or twice a year.
Wednesday during CMA Fest week is reserved for the CMT Awards. In the past I have been a mosh pit filler, this year I decided to do the awards festivities a little different. Carrie Underwood was doing her performance remotely at the Parthenon, which is located in Centennial Park. A must see if you are ever in Nashville. She performed her latest single, “Southbound” and stayed for the announcement of the biggest award of the night: Video of the Year. Carrie was nominated for and won this category as well as Female Video of the Year.
Thursday is officially the first day of the festival with numerous outdoor stages that are scattered among the downtown Nashville area. Fain Fair X is located in the Music City Center (also downtown) where fans can stop in to keep dry from the rain, stay cool from the heat, get freebies from vendors and of course meet some of their favorite artists! I stopped by the Maui Jim stage at Bridgestone to see American Idol finalist, Gabby Barrett and then continued over to Blake Shelton’s bar, Ole Red to see Rascal Flatts and Maddie and Tae. After the day time festivities, it was time to head across the Cumberland River to Nissan stadium to see the nightly shows.
Friday I was planning on going downtown to see Maddie & Tae and Lauren Alaina at Riverfront. Unfortunately, a rain storm came through and I opted not to go. I did however have a meet/greet with Maddie & Tae at Fan Fair X that I went to that afternoon. They are the sweetest girls and super talented. Their song “New dogs, old tricks” is a jam!
The lineup for Friday night at the stadium is what I was most looking forward too since Carrie Underwood was the headlining/closing performer. Her set was rocking from start to finish. She even brought out Joan Jett and covered her hits, “I hate myself for loving you”, “I love rock n’ roll” and “Bad Reputation”.
Saturday morning started off at Marathon Music Works for Lauren Alaina’s fan party which was 90’s themed. Inspired by her song, “Ladies in the 90’s”. If you don’t know anything about Lauren, you should change that. What you should know is she is the QUEEN of puns and loves a good theme party. After performing for about 90 minutes, she did a meet and greet with all 500 fans that were in attendance. Of course, in true Lauren fashion, we were given a 90’s themed gift with a pun: A bright lime green FANny pack.
I decided to do some shopping for a last minute bachelorette party for friend who was in town for the week and stopped at Hattie B’s before going to Saturday nights show.
The last day of the festival is always hard because the exhaustion is very real (not that it hasn’t been for a few days by this point) but also because the reality of my friends leaving to go back to their homes sets in. We started the day off at Loveless Cafe (one of my FAVORITE) places in Nashville for a bachelorette brunch. It was then followed up by milkshakes at Legendairy Milkshake Bar (a must visit!) and drinks at Honky Tonk Central (which is probably one of my favorite bars on Broadway). As we were sitting there drinking at the bar, country singer Tyler Rich walked in and joined us which was a great surprise and addition to the last minute bachelorette party festivities.
After getting a drink or two in on Broadway we made the journey over the Cumberland River one last time to see the final performers at Nissan Stadium.
I may have been rained on and I may have been running on little sleep (thank God for coffee and Bang energy drinks!), but this week was worth every lost minute of sleep. I couldn’t ask for a better time with better people. Country music has the best fans and there is no other festival or genre that does what CMA Fest does during this week. Nashville and CMA Fest you are like no other.
CMA Fest 2020 I look forward to seeing what you have in store. ‘Til next year…
Favorite Nissan Performers: Kelsea Ballerini, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, & Carrie Underwood (w/Joan Jett)
Artists I met: Gabby Barrett, Baylee Littrell, Lauren Alaina, Maddie & Tae, Tyler Rich