The heart of country music really heated up on June 5 with the start of CMA Fest. The three-day music festival brought country fans from all over to Nashville, the country music mecca. Throughout the weekend, country artists spread out across the city to grace a number of stages with their talents. To add to the pure joy that characterized the festival, the artists performed for free. All the proceeds from the festival benefit the CMA Foundation's Keep The Music Playing program, which supports music education.
Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Tim McGraw (with a little bit of help from wife Faith Hill) and Rascal Flatts took the stage at LP Field on Thursday evening to open the festivities. On Friday night, the football stadium was packed with fans of Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church and The Band Perry. American Idol winner Carrie Underwood even made a brief appearance to perform with Lambert. Keith Urban, Darius Rucker, Hunter Hayes, Brad Paisley, Lady Antebellum and Zac Brown Band kept the music going throughout Saturday and Sunday.
The smaller venues, like the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage, drew crowds during the daytime, offering performances from Danielle Bradbery, Kristian Bush, Frankie Ballard, Kelli Pickler and Billy Ray Cyrus. Attendees could float to and from the different venues to watch their favorite acts. Fans also had the opportunity to get autographs and interact with artists at Fan Fair X, which was held at the state-of-the-art Music City Center. And of course, you can bet that in addition to the constant country tunes that filled the Nashville air throughout the weekend, there was no shortage of fried southern food, beer and cowboy boots.