the CMA Fest was appropriately called “Fanfair” at the Tennessee State
Fairgrounds, it was all about the music, autograph booths, long lines
and fan club parties.  Today, in its 42nd year, it has expanded into
numerous concerts with over a hundred artists on more than a dozen
stages welcoming over 70,000 in attendance each day, as well as a
hundred signing booths in the new Music City Center.  The fan club
parties still bring the artists and fans together for those precious
moments, autographs and photos that they will take home, share and keep
forever. It’s also nice to discover that the parties are just as
important to the artists, if not moreso. 

of parties years ago soon come to mind as the anticipation builds to
see what our favorite artists will have in store for us each year.  It’s
hard to forget LeAnn Rimes’ first fan club party – an eight-hour
bowling bash with a young Brad Paisley as a back-up guitarist and the
amazing Clark Family Experience entertaining as well.  Billy Ray Cyrus
(with a two-year old Miley) at the Coliseum, Pam Tillis, Tim McGraw,
Faith Hill, Martina McBride and dozens of artists held similar events
and Shania Twain hosted her one-and-only party with fans who took photos
with the photogenic country queen.  Just like today, the need to be
one-on-one with his fans was evident in Keith Urban’s first fan club
party as he spent caring time with each one.  Proud to be his fifth fan
club member, it is now surreal to see where this phenomenal Aussie is

celebrated their fifteenth party with many loyal fans, shared lunch,
souvenir posters and a stunning performance of familiar and new songs
from their latest release, “Life As We Know It”. Carrie Underwood
combined her party with a Number One award event, a private concert and
the grand opening of her “Blown Away” tour exhibit at the Country Music
Hall of Fame.  The Band Perry made “The Fans Perry” the stars with
creative souvenirs, music and quality time.  Bo Bice always looks
forward to celebrating with his “Bo Peeps”, Jo Dee Messina has her fan
club picnic and Scotty McCreery brings along his favorite fried chicken
to share before his concert and meet and greet.  

ultimate “fan” of fan club parties themselves would be Chris Young, who
had been looking forward to sharing with his fans since his win on
Nashville Star in 2006, where he remained at the stage after his winning
performance to meet with each fan long after the staff was gone. This
year, he not only held the traditional party, but he also had a chalking
party, a Chris Young race, a special party to meet his parents and
grandparents and he sent out a prize patrol, street team and flash mobs
are all over town.  These were in addition to meet and greets at the
Fanfair booths and appearances.  

many years, Marty Stuart roughed it at a quaint barn at Smiley Hollow
with a mix of 100 degree temperatures, country food, country music, a
meet and greet and a “party“ in every sense of the word.  Today, his
Marty Party has grown into the 12th Late Night Jam at the Ryman
Auditorium where he has been joined by everyone from Porter Wagoner to
Keith Urban.  This year he welcomed his Fabulous Superlatives, Connie
Smith, the Oak Ridge Boys, Jamey Johnson, John Carter Cash and the
Mavericks before he met with each and every fan until after 3:00 a.m..
Yes, it’s all about the music AND the fans, and that’s you.  
(c) by S.Parks

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