The 41st Annual CMA Music Festival officially got underway at 10 a.m. Thursday with a performance by Montgomery Gentry at Riverfront Park and performances along the Cumberland River continue throughout the day.
"We've been pretty blessed man and lucky," said Eddie Montgomery. "We've got a lot of friends out there who call in radio stations and holler at TV stations and want to hear our stuff and that's pretty killer."
The Fan Fair Hall at the Nashville Convention Center on the corner of Fifth and Broadway also opened Thursday morning.
Autograph sessions and meet-and-greets are among the scheduled events.
Glen Campbell, Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Zac Brown Band and Brad Paisley will perform on the LP Field stage Thursday night.
The CMA Music Festival started small in 1972 with only 5,000 fans and has since exploded into a major annual event in Nashville.
Fans come from 50 states and 26 nations to get up close to their favorite country music artists and the festival brings big business.
Last year's festival attracted more than 65,000 fans and generated more than $30 million for the local economy, according to the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In the last six years CMA festival and concert ticket sales have generated $6.1 million for the CMA Keep the Music Playing Program, which works to keep music in local schools.
The CMA Music Festival was once known as fan fair because it's all about the fans.
Artists have performed at the festival for free for more than 40 years.