CMA Fest Breaks Record

Neither Tropical Storm Arlene nor competition from the nearby Bonnaroo Music Festival stopped this year’s CMA Music Festival from setting a new attendance record. More than 145,000 fans came out for the four-day event in Nashville.

“They didn’t let the weather spoil the fun,” Country Music Association Executive Director Ed Benson said. “They were on their feet singing in the rain and dancing in the aisles until the very end.”

The list of performers at the June 9-12 fest included Gretchen Wilson, Alan Jackson, Big & Rich, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, Wynonna Judd, Trisha Yearwood, Travis Tritt, Kenny Rogers and many others.

Benson was pleased to see that attendance grew from 132,000 in 2004 to 145,355 this year, according to CMA.

In 2003, the festival changed its name from Fan Fair to CMA in hopes of increasing attendance and broadening its scope of appeal.

Fan Fair had been held in Nashville every year since 1972. The majority of those years were at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, where the fest started to see waning interest from big stars and corporate sponsors. The CMA moved the event to downtown venues in 2001.

With the changes, Benson has set an attendance goal of 200,000 by 2007 and 500,000 by 2012.