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CMA fest attendance up 16 percent

Monday, June 14, 2010 – The CMA Music Festival hit an all-time record in 2010 selling out each night at LP Field, the venue for the nightly stadium concerts, an increase of almost 17 percent. Estimated daily attendance at the festival, which ended Sunday, climbed about 16 percent, from 56,000 to 65,000

"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. "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."

The Festival enjoyed a 16.7-percent increase in attendance at LP Field including 4-day ticket packages, promotional and single night tickets with an average nightly attendance topping 49,000.

The CMA reported 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.

There was a 33.3 percent increase in the sale of 4-day ticket packages, which resulted in a decline in the sale of single night tickets. Many seats that had been originally designated for single night ticket purchase were converted to four-day ticket packages due to the high demand. The fest also experienced its biggest crowds to date in the free areas including the Chevy Music Stage on the Bridgestone Arena Plaza and the Family, Fun, and Sports Zones along with the Music City Zone, which launched in 2009 on the Public Square at Metro Courthouse.

"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. "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."

With musicians volunteering their time, the CMA will donate half the net proceeds from the event to music education on their behalf through a partnership with the Nashville Alliance for Public Education called "Keep the Music Playing" and the remaining half to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to aid flood victims in need.

"Through diligent management of the Festival, CMA has been able to increase its donation to Keep the Music Playing each year," said Pam Garrett, Executive Director, Nashville Alliance for Public Education. "And at this critical time in the life of our city, CMA's generosity has reached out to include the thousands who continue to suffer as a result of our recent flood.

"I am so appreciative of our Country Music Association and artists," Garrett said. "They care about our students, they care about our quality of life, and they care about Nashville."

The Festival got underway Wednesday with Grand Marshall Brenda Lee leading the way for "The Sixth Annual CMA Music Festival Kick-Off Parade" in front of an estimated 14,000 spectators.

The Fifth Annual CMA Music Festival Block Party then featured shows by David Nail, Joe Nichols, Jerrod Niemann and Chuck Wicks before more than 7,000. A scheduled performance by Randy Houser was cancelled due to an afternoon thunderstorm.

A total of 37 artists participated in the 40 hours of star-packed Nightly Concerts at LP Field. Thursday performers were The Oak Ridge Boys singing the national anthem, Jason Aldean, Danny Gokey, Alan Jackson, Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw, and Carrie Underwood.

Friday's line-up was The Band Perry offering the national anthem, Julianne Hough, Kid Rock, Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Josh Turner, and Keith Urban, who performed with special guests Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman of Little Big Town and Sarah Buxton on backup vocals.

On Saturday, Jamie O'Neal sang the national anthem with Easton Corbin, Billy Currington, Randy Houser, Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts and Zac Brown Band performing.

Closing the fest on Sunday, Mark Wills sang the National Anthem with Trace Adkins, Justin Moore, Brad Paisley, Kellie Pickler, Darius Rucker and Blake Shelton (with a special appearance by Miranda Lambert and Wicks), along with comedian Paul Harris, lead singer of The Cleverlys.

The Judds got the 2010 CMA Music Festival off to a start Thursday morning during the kick-off concert at Riverfront Park. A total of 45 acts performed nearly 30 hours of concerts over the four days. Concerts were held in other venues as well including the Chevy Stage at the Bridgestone Arena Plaza

A staple of the fest is the chance to met artists. The Nashville Convention Center hosted 253 artists. Attendance over the four days was 55,385 - an increase of 4.25 percent from 2009's high of 53,000. The Fan Fair Hall was exclusive to four-day ticket holders on Thursday and Friday, but was open to the public for $15 on Saturday and Sunday.

Tim McGraw made his first appearance in the Fan Fair Hall since 2000, signing 3,000 autographs in 2 hours. Also back in 2010 was Rascal Flatts, who last signed in 2002. The trio performed a two-song acoustic set before thousands of camera-clicking, singing fans. The Judds, who hadn't signed autographs together since the 1990s when the event was held at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, signed in the CMA booth. Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn made a surprise appearance to sign autographs for three hours on Thursday. Taylor Swift hosted her own shindig for fans by signing autographs and singing Sunday at the Bridgestone Arena.

Others signing this year were Trace Adkins, Jason Aldean, Rodney Atkins, Laura Bell Bundy, Luke Bryan, Easton Corbin, Bucky Covington, Brantley Gilbert, Gloriana, Danny Gokey, Josh Gracin, Julianne Hough, Randy Houser, Jack Ingram, Joey + Rory, Lady Antebellum, Love And Theft, Patty Loveless, Justin Moore, Craig Morgan, Jerrod Niemann, Melissa Peterman, James Otto, Jake Owen, Kellie Pickler, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Mel Tillis, Pam Tillis, Randy Travis, Chuck Wicks, Gretchen Wilson and Chris Young.

This year's YWCA Celebrity Auction with Martina McBride drew more than $103,000 in bids - an increase of approximately 30 percent more than 2009, according to Gail Sonia, Director of Special Events at the Nashville YWCA. Since 1983, the auction has raised $1.4 million to support the services of the YWCA Weaver Domestic Violence Center.

The highest bids went to two framed, hand-written lyric sheets of She's a Butterfly, which was recorded by McBride and written by Big & Rich. Big Kenny autographed the lyrics and personally auctioned the 2 items to the crowd for $11,000 each.

The 2011 CMA Music Festival will take place Thursday through Sunday, June 9-12, in downtown Nashville. Current four-day ticket holders will have the opportunity to purchase tickets in July. A national ticket on-sale date and pre-sale opportunity for members of CMA's social networks will take place following the renewals for 2010 ticket holders.

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 Wednesday, Sept. on ABC.

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