The CMA Music Festival hit an all-time record in 2010, selling out each night at LP Field, the venue for the nightly star-packed concerts, sending a strong message that Music City is back in business after the floods that devastated Nashville in May.
“This news is terrific for our community, our industry, and the artists who gave freely of their time over the past week to make CMA Music Festival the biggest and best event since it started as Fan Fair in 1972,” said Steve Moore, chairman of the CMA Board of Directors, in a news release. “After all we have been through, and all the hard work everyone contributed to getting the venues and businesses ready for our fans, this is a huge win for everyone who cares about Music City. This community needed a big win and we got it.”
With the unprecedented sell-out, the festival, which took place Thursday-Sunday, experienced a 16.7 percent increase in attendance at LP Field, including four-day ticket packages, promotional and single night tickets. Average nightly attendance topped 49,000.
The increase was felt throughout the festival, with record numbers in all the free zones, public events, and concert venues, including Riverfront Park, which experienced a daily increase of 6.4 percent over 2009, when the area was opened to the public for the first time.
Estimated daily attendance throughout the festival in 2010 was 65,000 compared to 56,000 in 2009.
“The impact of this year’s CMA Music Festival is more significant than ever because of its timing following the flood,” said Butch Spyridon, President of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau, in the release. “The fact that this was the biggest and best CMA Fest in Nashville’s history is icing on the cake. It’s proof positive that Nashville is back!”
Oklahoma country music stars were a big part of the successful festival: Checotah native Carrie Underwood performed at LP Field Thursday, the event’s opening night, along with Alan Jackson, Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw and more.
On Friday, Tishomingo resident Miranda Lambert and Chockie native Reba McEntire were part of the LP Field lineup.
“I remember exactly where I was sitting when I came to CMA Fest,” Lambert said, pointing toward the highest seats in LP Field and remembering her visit as one among thousands of Country Music fans.
Saturday night included performances by Billy Currington, Martina McBride, Zac Brown Band and Rascal Flatts, which includes Joe Don Rooney of Picher.
On Sunday, Tishomingo resident Blake Shelton performed, with special appearances by Lambert, his fiancee, and Chuck Wicks. Shelton also did a duet with Trace Adkins, his fellow “Hillbilly Bone” hitmaker. Others on the Saturday slate included Brad Paisley, Kellie Pickler and Darius Rucker.
“We came to Nashville this time to throw down. It’s time to throw down,” said Adkins. “Thank you for bringing your badonkadonks to Nashville.”
Country Music Hall of Fame member Roy Clark, who lives in Tulsa, was honored Sunday during the 31st annual Sunday Mornin’ Country concert at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville, according to CMT.com. Set during the CMA Music Festival, the tribute was to feature fellow Hall of Fame member Charlie McCoy and several of Clark’s fellow “Hee Haw” cast members, including LuLu Roman, Roni Stoneman and the Nashville Edition.
In addition, several country stars, including Lambert and Oklahoma City-bred Vince Gill, played shows and threw parties for their fan clubs during the event.
The festival was filmed for a three-hour television special “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock,” hosted by Tim McGraw and scheduled to air at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 1 on ABC.
Until then, check out these Associated Press photos of the Oklahoma stars in action at the CMA Music Festival:
See more photos after the break.