NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The sold-out concert at LP Field officially closed day one of the CMA Festival.
The first nightly, sold-out concert, started around 8 p.m. at LP Field. The artists performing include Alabama, Luke Bryan, Brantley Gilbert, Dierks Bentley, Rascal Flatts, and Tim McGraw.
Even Governor Bill Haslam took the stage to welcome fans to Tennessee.
“You get your 25 minutes to give everything you can to those fans to show your appreciation for them, so it's a different type of show for sure, but it’s one of the most special of the year,” said Dierks Bentley.
Country duo Big & Rich were handed a special set of keys to unlock the gates to Riverfront Park before taking the stage at the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage on Thursday morning. Fans flocked to the free concerts at several stages in downtown Nashville that ran all day.
LeAnn Rimes also cut the ribbon for the AT&T U-Verse Fan Fair X at the Music City Center, which includes live performances, meet-and-greets with country stars, autograph signings, and family fun. It runs daily throughout the festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The festival is all about the fans and many artists throw fan club parties for their die-hard followers.
Joe Nichols held his party at The Listening Room Cafe Thursday morning. Fans sat and ate tacos, listened to stories and heard Joe play a few of his songs. He said the party helps him connect with his fans.
"Everyone's invited to comment, talk, ask questions, anything they want to do. That makes it more of a one on one connect.," Nichols said.
It was standing room only when the party started at 11 a.m. Lindsay Morgan, and her mother, traveled to Nashville to be a part of the celebration.
"It shows you another side of the artist, to get to know them a little better," Morgan said. "They all put on these awesome fan club parties, kind of get a little more intimate setting, then the big concert venue."
Nichols said he really appreciates the support he receives from his fans year in, and year out.
"It blows my mind everyday that people still come to shows, and they till buy tickets, and they come to fan club parties. It makes me feel great, I really appreciate them and I think they know that," Nichols said.
The free concerts kick off again at 10 a.m. Friday through Sunday in downtown Nashville, followed by the nightly concerts at LP Field.
For more information, including schedules, go to http://on.nc5.co/1i5x9RJ.