In April 1972, the Country Music Association held its inaugural “Fan Fair” at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium, welcoming 5,000 fans and featuring artists including Loretta Lynn, Roy Acuff, Tom. T. Hall, and Ernest Tubb.
In the five decades since, the festival — which was rebranded CMA Fest in 2018 — has evolved into the four-day festival that regularly draws 80,000 fans to downtown Nashville. On June 8-11, CMA Fest will celebrate its 50th anniversary, featuring performances from artists including Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs, Lainey Wilson, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, HARDY, Cody Johnson and Hailey Whitters.
That growth and evolution — which included relocations to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in 1982 and to downtown Nashville in 2001 — will be highlighted in the 75-minute documentary CMA Fest: 50 Years of Fan Fair, which will debut on Hulu on Wednesday, July 5.
CMA Fest: 50 Years of Fan Fair marks CMA’s first feature film. CMA’s CEO Sarah Trahern and senior vp, marketing, content & communications strategy Kelly Striewski serve as executive producers on the film.
The festival’s journey is shown through one-on-one interviews with artists including Keith Urban, Wynonna Judd, Jeannie Seely, Lorrie Morgan, Dolly Parton, Frankie Staton, Carrie Underwood and Reba McEntire.
“CMA Fest has taken several shapes throughout its storied history,” Trahern said via a statement. “As we step into our 50th year, our hope with this film is to underscore the one thing that has remained with the festival—its heart. We are thrilled to share the evolution and magic of this incredible event with the Hulu audience.”
“What better way to tell the story of CMA Fest than through the eyes of the artists, our industry and the fans,” Striewski added. “This film highlights the truly unique connection that exists within CMA Fest and how this festival has continued to grow the Country community throughout its 50 years. We couldn’t be happier to have this story debut on Hulu.”
“We have a long and valued partnership with CMA and are excited to expand on that by adding this extraordinary film to the Hulu slate,” said Rob Mills, executive vp, unscripted and alternative entertainment, Walt Disney Television. “We can’t wait to share this with music lovers everywhere, who will be treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the heart of CMA Fest and its many contributions to the country music community.”
CMA Fest’s history will also be feted with other exhibitions, including the photography exhibition “In the Hands of the Fans: Fifty Years of CMA Fest,” which opens June 6 at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Additionally, on June 10, the Hall of Fame will feature a screening of the 1997 documentary Fan Fair Phenomenon, which aired on The Nashville Network. The screening will take place at 2:30 p.m. on June 10 in the museum’s Ford Theater and is included with the cost of museum admission, though Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum members can view the documentary for free.