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CMA Fest draws crowds, surprises

Monday, June 12, 2017 – The 46th CMA Music Festival drew sold-out crowds to the nightly concerts at Nissan Stadium, capacity crowds at Chevrolet Riverfront Stage and the Cracker Barrel Country Roads Stage at Ascend Amphitheater.

The event had 11 stages, 7 free to the public with 167 hours of music from 350 plus artists.

The overall attendance was not released by the CMA.

The Cracker Barrel Country Roads stage at Ascend Amphitheater, headlined by Big & Rich, Sara Evans, Hunter Hayes, and Dan + Shay, as well as the daytime Chevrolet Riverfront Stage, hit capacity numbers over the course of the four-day event. Halfway through Old Dominion's CMA Fest kick-off set Thursday morning in Riverfront Park, entry was halted due to the volume of excited fans pouring in.

In a surprise appearance, 2016 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Randy Travis joined Michael Ray Thursday on the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage for "Forever & Ever, Amen."

Garth Brooks played Nissan Stadium as a surprise, singing "Friends in Low Places" and "The Thunder Rolls," as well as his newest single "Ask Me How I Know." This was Brooks' first CMA Fest appearance in nearly 20 years.

"This is definitely one for the record books," said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. "This year's Festival was marked with memorable moments and one-of-a-kind experiences. We're happy how fans embraced not only our new stages, but also the city during an exciting historic Stanley Cup run for the Nashville Predators."

The percentage of returning attendees held steady at 48 percent. Among 4-day passholders, the returning attendee level is even higher at 51 percent returning for 2017.

Gen X and Millennials now make up the biggest base of Festival fans with equal shares of attendees from both of these demos.

Millennials, attendees ages 18-34, delivered a key segment for new attendees with a share of 57 percent attending for the first time compared to 52 percent across all age ranges

The festival benefits music education programs across the country, as every artist donated their time, performing for free.

The previously-announced 3-hour ABC special, "CMA Fest," co-hosted by Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini, airs Wednesday, Aug. 16 at 8 p.m. eastern.

Tickets for the 2018 CMA Music Festival, which is Thursday, June 7 through Sunday, June 10, go on pre-sale Monday, June 19. The national on-sale date is Tuesday, June 27. Order tickets online or call the CMA Box Office at 1-800-262-3378.

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