As an example of the Grand Ole Opry show last night with Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Darius Rucker, Oak Ridge Boys and Jerrod Niemann and new comers Eden’s Edge.
Numbers that give you a scope of the size this music festival brings:
- 65,000 attendees each day expected. (Last Year Stats).
- Official attendance will be posted on Monday (June 13)
- Fans from all 50 states and 26 nations will attend
- Approximately 130 Music Acts will make up the Fest
- There are approximately 80 different vendors/activities
- All of the artists who appear at CMA Music Festival do so for free.
- As a result, much of this hometown country music festival is free for everybody!
Free things to do at this four-day (actually five-day) country music celebration:
- I love a parade. The festival doesn’t officially start until Thursday, but at 11 a.m. Wednesday, there is a parade along Broadway from 10th Avenue to First Avenue with the Music City Drum and Bugle Corps, various marching bands, inflatables, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, a Harley Davidson group of 300 bikes, and 40 Chevy vehicles all occupied by celebrities including Billy Dean, Mark Wills, Bill Anderson, Josh Thompson and more. The Budweiser Clydesdales are expected to participate in this parade, which winds up with a 1 p.m. block party at Riverfront Park, where you can see performances by Josh Thompson, Lee Brice, Uncle Kracker and Randy Houser. All free.
- I love free country music. There are several stages with free continuous music during the daytime hours Thursday through Sunday. For example, the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage will have Gary Allan, Sammy Kershaw, Emerson Drive, Phil Vassar, Bucky Covington, Bill Anderson, Jo Dee Messina, Darryl Worley, Lonestar, Mel Tillis, Billy Ray Cyrus, Josh Kelley, Crystal Bowersox, Terri Clark, The Bellamy Brothers, Roy Clark, the Gatlin Brothers and more. There is also the Lays Stage at Bridgestone Arena Plaza and the Bud Light stage in the Sports Zone next to Schermerhorn Symphony Center — all with strong lineups all four days.
- I love free CMA food. Thursday is “Family Day” in the Family Zone (Walk of Fame Park, Fourth to Fifth avenues), and there is a free picnic sponsored by White Castle with free hamburgers and cheeseburgers and such for the first 500 people. There are also free samples in the Fun Zone (Broadway between Fourth Avenue and the river). One of the most popular is the Blue Bell Ice Cream giveaway. I’m told that last year 50,000 samples were handed out.
- I love the giveaways. Socks and T-shirts (Gildan is one of the sponsors) will be handed out in the Fun Zone. In the Sports Zone (Schermerhorn parking lot, off Fourth Avenue, across from Family Zone), visitors will have a chance to drive a Chevy and get a free T-shirt.
- I love children’s activities. The Family Zone is offering free books to children and will have an arts and crafts booth where kids can create. There will be free finger-printing for children and free temporary tattoos, storytelling and more 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday in the Family Zone.
- I love seeing interesting animals. I have no idea what they have to do with country music, but you can get up close and personal with the Budweiser Clydesdales in the new Power Zone (parking lot at Second Avenue and Church Street), and I highly recommend seeing the Ultimate Air Dogs in action. These water-loving canines run and dive and are great fun.
- I love an auction. The celebrity auction of clothing and personal items that Martina McBride hosts on Sunday to benefit the YWCA is not only fun but might even feature some Ms. Cheap-worthy bargains.
- I love it that the festival site is so compact. All the zones are within walking distance of one another, so put on your walking shoes and check out all of the free fun.