I have talked to a lot of people who are very unhappy about the changes at Fan Fair Hall. One common complaint is the procedure has taken the certainty out of it. Many feel that if they show up at the crack of dawn and line up, they will get to meet their favorite star. They have a point, but I look at it another way.
My first CMA Music Fest was in 1998, when it was still held at the fairgrounds and still called Fan Fair. I loved the opportunity to get to stand in line to meet my favorite stars. I also recall the disappointment of standing in line for a while, only to learn that I wouldn’t get to meet the artist for which I had been waiting. I remember one time in particular, I was near the front of the line when the signing was ended.
Eventually, I decided to stop going to Fan Fair Hall. I made the decision for a couple of reasons. First, I had already met most of the artist I really wanted to meet. I began to value autographs less and preferred to spend my time watching live performances. Secondly, I realized it was more fun and worthwhile to attend fan club parties. Most parties included an intimate performance. Some of the parties – such as George Jones’ fan club party – included a better show than you could see at a regular performance. Some fan club parties also include the guarantee attendees to meet the artists and get autographs.
I was very happy to hear about the change to the process of getting autographs at Fan Fair Hall. I walked through Fan Fair Hall last year briefly, and some of the people looked pretty miserable. Some of the people had waited in line for hours to meet one person. I even heard stories of people sleeping on the sidewalk in downtown Nashville, thinking that choice would improve their odds. While I am grateful that country music has an event that allows fans to get close to the artists, I couldn’t help but think there had to be an easier, more convenient way.
When the Country Music Association announced their new structure for Fan Fair Hall, I literally wanted to start cheering. It seemed like the perfect solution and something that I was convinced would make an event I look forward to every year – CMA Fest – so much better.
For the first time in 13 years, I plan on going to Fan Fair Hall as a fan – for the purpose of meeting some of my favorite stars. Why? Because it’s more organized and I know I won’t be wasting two or three hours waiting for one artist and then find out I’m not going to meet them.
I enjoyed logging onto CMAFest.com on May 14 to learn what artists would be signing and how the lottery would be organized. I found it very easy and quick to select the artists I wanted to meet. First, I registered as an individual. I am grateful the CMA is very receptive to feedback from the fans. Because of the comments many fan had made, they decided to allow an option to register for yourself plus a friend. Later, I registered with a friend when I learned I was permitted to register both ways.
It’s true that people do not like change. There’s been a lot of concern about the new format and the CMA has been very helpful in making sure everyone understood the new process and had all their questions answered. A lot of fans showed up for CMA’s Q&A sessions on Facebook and Twitter to get questions answered.
I don’t know how many artists I will get to meet this year, and I will be happy if I only get to meet a few artists. I am happy that this process will be safer and more efficient. I think skeptics will be pleasantly surprised, and find that this new process gives them time to enjoy many of the other aspects of CMA Fest.