I'm sitting in my office in downtown Nashville cringing at the thought of the coming week. This is the week of the CMA FESTIVAL. For those who remember back a few years, this is the original FAN FAIR. FAN FAIR (wow, sounds like a fun time with rides and funnel cake and clowns right? ) was created for the Country Music Association to say 'thank you' to their loyal fans. They would have all sorts of Country Music stars in one place to give concerts, sign autographs and generally be friendly with the throngs of fans who else wise wouldn't get a chance to meet their Idols. Thank you fans - at $100 per person. (and that's the cheap seats - expensive tickets go for $300!) Hmm maybe that's why they don't cal it FAN Fair any more and call it the CMA Festival. (But, if you look close, you can see the name Fan Fair there in the logo, too!)
Those of us in Nashville remember when Fan Fair was held out at the Fairgrounds (wherein it got part of it's name..Fan FAIR) The crowds spent most of their time south of downtown, and life in the center of the city was much easier. The groups of fans that came downtown to touch the brickwork of the Ryman Auditorium and take their picture in front of the capital building were cute, and only mildly irritating. The amount of money they left behind is viewed as perhaps the one redeeming quality of the event - AND it was nearly canned until the CMA took it over just a few years back.
These days the newly minted CMA FESTIVAL is held downtown, concerts and all. Some of the concerts are indoors and some at the Riverfront park (is there any city on a river that DOESN'T have a "Riverfront park"..ah , but I digress). If you look at the CMA Music Festival Site, you will see a video of a "Block Party" which shows the amounts of crowds just around the corner from my office. To them it's one big party, but to those of us who have to work down here, it's lunchtime obstacle course! Yeah, it's gonna be a long week. A long week filled with Music, but a long week.
Taking a moment to view the CMA Festival site I have to say: Who are some of these people? I only recognize about half of them. They must be important, after all they are on the front of the site, touted as a reason to spend up to $350.00 PER PERSON for the 4 day concert pass. I still can't get over that. (I also can't get over the fact that these tickets were SOLD out many months ago!)
Not being a Country Music fan (careful, them's fighting words!) I can only reiterate those stories given to me by friends who have been to past concerts (yes, most were good, but waiting for your favorites was hard in the heat of the June Sun in Music City) and waiting up to 2 hours standing in line just to meet your idol and get their signature (John Schneider once reportedly CHARGED $5 each for his signature one year, though the money WAS supposedly earmarked for charity, one bristles at the thought of getting an autograph and being CHARGED for the pleasure, charity or not!) and generally finding one's way around town. Reba MacIntyre is going to be on hand for the first time in 13 years to sign autographs, oh be still my heart.
FAN Fair was originally a full week worth of events, concerts and the like, the CMA Festival is only about 4 days (Thursday to Sunday, June 6-9 with the big closing concert Sunday night.)
Fan Fair Fans filled the city with cars, big hats, bigger hair, and money. The CMA Festival does the same, but add in skimpy outfits, stupid young people, beer and more beer and then concentrate it down town. Now you see why we're cringing.
Still, even with the traffic and people, I wouldn't live anywhere else!