Sarah Trahern
Chief Executive Officer | Country Music Association

As CEO of the Nashville-based Country Music Association, it’s Sarah Trahern’s job to preserve the legacy while securing the future growth of the format — and CMA Fest is the global intersection.

From June 8-11, CMA Fest entertained a record-setting 90,000 fans representing every state and 51 foreign countries, a 12 % increase over 2022. More than 300 acts were spread across 10 stages in downtown Nashville, including Nissan Stadium, the hub of the star-powered nightly shows, which are taped for a primetime, ABC Television special.

“Celebrating the 50th anniversary of CMA Fest was not just a highlight of the last year, but a career highlight for me personally,” said Trahern, after canceling the event twice due to COVID-19. “The feeling of being able to come back for our second live event since that postponement and execute the festival on such a large scale is unparalleled.”

The event generated $2.5 million for the CMA Foundation, which supports music education, and generated more than $74 million in direct visitor spending for the city. CMA also produced its first documentary film “CMA Fest: 50 Years of Fan Fair,” which aired on Hulu and ABC.

“CMA Fest continues to remind me how special our country community really is. From artists who have attended CMA Fest all 50 years to those that were there for the very first time, the unique bond between the artists and fans is what makes our festival so special,” Trahern said. “I am proud to be a small part of seeing that connection happen every single year.”

Weather is one of the many challenges in producing a four-day event across multiple stages.

“While sophisticated forecasting allows us to always have a strong weather plan in place should weather concerns arise, we are excited for the launch of the new (Titans) stadium in 2027, which will include a dome,” Trahern said.

Enthusiasm for live music is reassuring.

“I am bullish about the fans’ appetite for seeing live music again,” she said. “I believe there is nothing better than seeing country music live, and we certainly saw that with record attendance at CMA Fest this year.” — Wendy Pearl

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