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CMA Fest attracts thousands to Nashville in four-day event

Staff Reports • Jun 11, 2018 at 4:09 PM

NASHVILLE—CMA Fest is officially a wrap. Thousands of fans packed the streets of downtown Nashville to hear their favorite artists and participate in festival activities. Here’s a breakdown of the four-day event. 

Day Four

The fourth and final day saw “CMA Fest” co-host Kelsea Ballerini as the Artist of the Day at Xfinity Fan Fair X, where she answered questions from CMT’s Leslie Fram followed by a performance that included her new single “I Hate Love Songs.” Ballerini also shared the song’s brand new video with fans in attendance. Luke Bryan made a surprise appearance at the Chevy Riverfront Stage for 10 second trivia, where he awarded two winners with tickets to the Chevy suite at Nissan Stadium for Sunday’s nightly concert. Once again, the Chevy Riverfront Stage reached capacity crowds Sunday during Scotty McCreery’s afternoon set. Chris Young hosted a surprise meet and greet for hundreds of fans at his booth at Xfinity Fan Fair X, while Lindsay Ellpresented a check on behalf of Cracker Barrel for $15,000 to the CMA Foundation.

Click here to see a full gallery of photos and video from Saturday at CMA Fest. 

Bryan didn't want the night to end as he closed out Nissan Stadium with a stellar set, performing well past midnight. After rushing to the stage for a potentially shorter set due to incoming rain, Bryan was having so much fun he extended his set on the fly, which included a surprise serenade to Randy Travis who was in the audience before closing out CMA Fest with "Roller Coaster" alongside friend Cole Swindell. The night was full of surprises. “CMA Fest” co-host Thomas Rhett announced early on Sunday that he’d join the Nissan Stadium performance line-up, while Dwight Yoakam joined Dierks Bentley for an incredible performance of “Fast As You” and Brothers Osbornejoined Bentley for “Burnin’ Man.” Florida Georgia Line performed their massive hit “Meant To Be” with pop singer Bebe Rexha after surprising fans by welcoming the Backstreet Boys to the stage to perform “God, Your Mama And Me.” 

The CMA Fest app was used by fans more than ever, with nearly 15 million scheduled events and almost 50,000 total users throughout all four days. Conversations happening around CMA Fest saw more than 225 million in social reach on Sunday, an increase of more than 42 million compared to last year’s final day of the festival.

Day Three 

CMA Fest day three kicked off bright and early, with fans packing the CMA Close Up Stage at Xfinity Fan Fair X the minute doors opened.

Dustin Lynch entertained the giant crowd with a question-and-answer session with Ashley Eicher alongside Lynch’s producer Zach Crowell before performing “Good Girl,” “Cowboys and Angels” and “Small Town Boy” during the artist of the day session at the CMA Close Up Stage, followed by Garth Brooks, who participated in a question-and-answer session with Sirius XM’s Storme Warren and answered questions from fans in the audience before he surprised the crowd and performed a medley of his hits, including “Friends In Low Places,” “The Dance,” “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” and “The River.” Brooks’ appearance, which was live-streamed through CMA’s Facebook page, was viewed more than 72,000 times.

Click here to see a full gallery of photos and video from Saturday at CMA Fest. 

At Nissan Stadium, Keith Urban kept crowds rocking past midnight, Chris Stapleton delivered a powerful set and Sam Hunt surprised fans, performing his new single “Downtown’s Dead.” The night’s final concerts at Nissan Stadium featured performances by Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Brett Eldredge, Florida Georgia Line with special guest Bebe Rexha, Ricky Skaggs, Ray Stevens, Cole Swindell and just announced Sunday morning, “CMA Fest” co-host Thomas Rhett.

Day Two

CMA Fest kicked off the weekend early on Friday with yet another day and night of live country music acts performing throughout downtown Nashville.

The Chevy Riverfront Stage reached capacity crowds as Hunter Hayes took the stage Friday afternoon, while the Cracker Barrel Country Roads Stage at Ascend Amphitheater saw record attendance in the evening. Six-time CMA Awards winner and 10-time CMA Awards host Carrie Underwood delivered an unforgettable Nissan Stadium closing set. And Luke Bryan spoke to a packed house on the CMA Close Up Stage at the Artist of the Day session at Xfinity Fan Fair X.

Click here to see a full gallery of photos and video from Friday at CMA Fest.

On Friday night, the CMA Foundation helped create two special moments for Nashville-area music students. At Nissan Stadium, the Andrew Jackson Elementary School Honors Choir performed “This Is Me,” led by band director and CMA Foundation Music Teacher of Excellence Franklin Willis. And across the river at the Cracker Barrel Country Roads Stage at Ascend Amphitheater, students from Oliver Middle School performed “Thankful For” with Adam Sanders, led by band director and CMA Foundation Music Teacher of Excellence Kevin Jankowski.

The CMA Fest app has clocked more than 8.5 million scheduled events between the first two days of the festival, outpacing last year by more than 1.3 million.

CMA Fest is already rocking its way into the weekend with performances that kicked off Saturday morning at 10 a.m.

Garth Brooks surprised fans Saturday afternoon at CMA Fest when he performed on the CMA Close Up Stage at Xfinity Fan Fair X inside Music City Center. Fans who packed the stage hours before Brooks appeared Saturday morning were treated to a medley of his hits, including “Friends In Low Places,” “The Dance,” “Callin’ Baton Rouge” and “The River.” 

Brooks also participated in a question-and-answer session with SiriusXM’s Storme Warren and answered questions from fans in the audience. 

Saturday night’s concerts at Nissan Stadium feature “CMA Fest” co-host Kelsea Ballerini, Jillian Jacqueline, Dustin Lynch, Jon Pardi, Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban and Lee Ann Womack. Special guest hosts include HGTV’s “Property Brothers” stars Jonathan and Drew Scott, joined by fellow HGTV talent. And the Cracker Barrel Country Roads Stage at Ascend Amphitheater presented by Warner Music Nashville features Cole Swindell joined by Cale Dodds, Morgan Evans, Michael Ray and Tegan Marie. 

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