NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Country music’s longest-running festival officially gets underway Thursday, but downtown Nashville is already bustling with activity. It’s quite a different sight from two years ago when Music City sat nearly silent.

The fans came early, and as expected, from all over the country.

“You get a lot of people who come from all over the country that come for CMA fest but internationally, too. I actually just had a conversation with some people from Dublin, Ireland that were here. We have some people from Scotland, some people from Venezuela in our crowd here today and even Argentina,” local musician Joey Boretti told News 2. 

Country music is the common thread bringing them all together. 

“I’m obsessed with Luke Bryan, so I’m so excited to be here after three years of it not being here, so excited,” said Madalyn Herrmana who was exploring downtown a day before the festival got started. 

Some fans are redeeming CMA Music Festival tickets from 2020, while others like Mark and Terri Brady are knocking off their bucket list. 

“First time! It was a bucket list item of mine and I finally decided this was the year to get it done,” said Mark. 

Judging by the early crowds, the fans are ready for a three-year party. 

“I’ve been on Broadway before and it was busy, but this is like a whole new type of busy. It’s just super exciting to see all of these people here and ready to go,” Lillie Tabor who is visiting from Wisconsin told News 2. 

The music is needed in a city hit hard from the pandemic to the Christmas Day bombing. 

“I’m so happy about it, just everything the city has gone through and the fact that two years ago we didn’t have any of this. To get it back, I mean it makes my dreams because I’m able to do what I love to do with the people here,” explained Boretti. 

CMA Fest officially gets underway just before 10 a.m. Thursday on the Chevy Riverfront Stage. 

CMA Fest is back! News 2 crews are giving you a front row seat to all the action as country artists and fans flood Music City for the first time in two years. Follow our continuing coverage right here on