Next week is CMA Fest in Nashville, and fans from all over the world come to see their favorite country stars perform. Over the years, since its inception in 1972, when it was dubbed “Fan Fair,” things have changed quite a bit. While it is still a huge highlight, and country is the only genre of music that brings fans together in this way, many aspects of the event are just different.

This year’s Nissan Stadium lineup is huge, with superstars like Luke Combs, Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, and Luke Bryan performing for fans on the main stage. There are many other stages where country stars, old and new, will be performing for fans.

As we gear up for what is called country music’s biggest week, “CMA Fest 2023,” we note what they do not do at country music fans’ biggest party anymore.

RELATED: Carrie, Blake, Keith, And More Tell CMA Fest’s Story In New Doc

  • Every artist (including superstars) held a fan club party.

    Jason Kempin/Getty Images

    Luke Combs performs during day 3 of CMA Fest 2022 at Nissan Stadium on June 11, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.

    Jason Kempin/Getty Images

    Today in 2023, Carrie Underwood is one of the only superstars in country music that still holds her annual Fan Club party at CMA Fest. She does it every year at the Grand Ole Ory house. Her party for her “Care Bears” this year is on June 6 before she performs on the Opry that night. Luke Combs is also holding a fan club party for his Bootleggers this year (2023). Back in the day, every country star, big or small, had an annual fan club party. It was the highlight of most fan’s week, and yes, most of them again signed autographs for hours after the party.

  • Big stars at the celebrity softball game.

    City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game at CMA Festival - Arrivals

    Jason Kempin/Getty Images

    This was a big deal—the City Of Hope Celebrity Softball Game at CMA Fest. In the past, big stars joined softball teams to play against each other for charity. This event started to lose its star power over the years, and one of the biggest stars to do it in later years in the 2010s was Carrie Underwood, who loves to play softball. This year (2023), the Rock’ N Jock Celebrity Softball game will play out during CMA Fest, but no country stars are listed to play this year on the event’s website.

  • An award show during CMA Fest week.

    2018 CMT Music Awards - Show John

    Jason Kempin/Getty Images

    In the past few years, The CMT Music Awards have played out during different times of the year; this year, it was held in Texas in April. In years past, the CMT Music Awards were held in Nashville during CMA Fest week. Before the CMT Awards started in 2002, a fan-voted award show was held every year at Fan Fair called The Music City News Awards.

  • Big record label performances.

    FanFair Country Music Festival

    Country singers Trace Adkins, Cyndi Thompson, and Keith Urban pose for a photograph at a stadium skybox at FanFair, the world’s largest country music festival June 15, 2002 in Nashville, Tennessee.

    Rusty Russell/Getty Images

    Today, big name acts perform at CMA Fest at Nissan Stadium. Back in the day, big acts played during their record label’s night. For instance, all Sony acts were on one night, and all Capitol Records’ acts were on another night. The acts would start with openers and end the show, which was held at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville, with the label’s top names. Rarely did the label’s top acts miss this show.

  • Superstar autograph signings.

    32nd Annual FanFair in Nashville

    Joel Scott (L), age 12, hands items to country music artist Dierks Bentley for autographs at the Nashville Convention Center during the 32nd Annual FanFair country music festival on June 7, 2003 in Nashville, Tennessee. The four-day festival, staged by the Country Music Association, is the largest of its kind and offers fans close access to many of country’s biggest stars as well as nightly concerts featuring the genre’s top performers.

    Rusty Russell/Getty Images

    All the biggest names in country music signed autographs for fans at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville. In 1990, Garth Brooks famously signed autographs for 23 hours straight. Taylor Swift rented out Nashville’s Bridgestone arena in 2010 and signed autographs, and met with fans for 13 hours. Today’s Fan Fair X happens in downtown Nashville and only has autograph signings from very new country singers and some of the older stars from the early 1990s and the 1980s. Stars like Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, and most of today’s top stars do not do autograph lines at CMA Fest.

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