CMA Fest 2018 has come and gone, but in its short and extremely jam-packed four days fans were able to see everything from Garth Brooks to cute, adoptable puppies. So whether you couldn’t make it to CMA Fest this year or you simply want to relive the memories, we’ve broken down each day’s major highlights below. Enjoy!

Thursday

While the spotlight may shine on country music and its fans during CMA Fest, there’s always room for a puppy or two — well, 60 to be exact. This year, Miranda Lambert’s nonprofit organization, MuttNation Foundation, teamed up with Nashville Humane Association and ultimately guided 55 mutts to their “furever” homes. Each came with a $150 adoption fee and an admirable name straight from Lambert herself. The exhibit was set up just inside of Music City Center at Fan Fair X and, like you, we couldn’t get enough of the featured pooches.

The Radio Disney Country Stage was one of many CMA Fest stages hosting artists throughout the daytime hours. Abby Anderson was one of those artists and she sure knew how to engage an audience, whether she was covering Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” or singing originals such as “Make Him Wait.”

Watching Abby Anderson on day 1 of #CMAFest 2018

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Like many fans, after hearing “Burning House” for the first time we were hooked on Cam. That’s why we couldn’t miss the chance to attend her fan club party at Analog at Hutton Hotel. Throughout the hour she proved her powerhouse vocal ability, shared the inspiration behind many of her songs and even took song requests from fans. Her set included favorites such as “Mayday” and “Diane,” as well as her own rendition of Kermit the Frog’s “The Rainbow Connection.”


Friday

Rising country duo Smithfield performed the CMA Fest Chevy Breakout Stage, and their tracks “Hey Whiskey” and “When You’re Gone” pulled quite the crowd. And by this time in the afternoon — they began their set around 1 p.m. — the heat of the day was already taking its toll on fans, but somehow Smithfield managed to show up even hotter.

Immediately following their set, Smithfield handed over the Chevy Breakout Stage to Runaway June. The all-female trio shared fan-favorites “Wild West” and “Lipstick” before ending their set with a new track entitled “I Can Buy My Own Drinks.” Oh, and if you were wondering, fans definitely approved of Runaway June’s newest music.

#RunawayJune playing a new song for fans at Day 2 of #CMAFEST

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When Darryl Worley is scheduled to perform at CMA Fest, you go. The Budweiser Forever Country Stage, located just outside of Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater, hosted the county singer, but we didn’t need to tell you that because judging by the size of the audience fans knew just where to find him. Worley performed hits like “Have You Forgotten,” as well as his most recent release, “Lonely Alone.”

Saturday

First Tennessee Park, home of the Nashville Sounds Minor League Baseball team, hosted the annual City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game, where fans were enabled to have a great time for an even better cause. While Team Opry beat out Team iHeart in the extra inning, everyone in attendance left winners, as they all contributed to the fundraising intended to strike out cancer. This year’s celebrities included Lauren Alaina, Adam Doleac, Lucas Hoge, Adam Craig and others outside the country music community who were still just as committed to striking out cancer, such as Jay Cutler and HGTV’s The Property Brothers.

It’s no secret that people flock to Nashville for CMA Fest, but add Garth Brooks’ name to the schedule and you’d be surprised by the amount of people who show up to a single location. On this day, it was the CMA Close Up Stage where Brooks appeared for a Q&A with Sirius  XM’s Storme Warren. He also took questions from fans, and before it was all over he surprised those who fought for their attendance with a medley of hits “Friends In Low Places,” “The Dance,” “Callin’ Baton Rouge” and “The River.” This was definitely one of those you had to be there moments.

@garthbrooks pulled quite the crowd into Fan Fair X on day 3 of #CMAFest

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Sunday

If you’ve yet to run across Lanie Wilson, do yourself a favor and explore her music. She’s a ’90s country-loving breathe of fresh air with a timeless taste for music, and her CMA Fest set at John Rich’s Redneck Riviera only proved that. She began her set with her own rendition of Little Big Town’s “Little White Church” and before long she was performing a medley of classics including “Why Not Me,” “Suds In The Bucket,” “Fishin’ In The Dark,” “Fat Bottom Girls” and “Redneck Woman.” It truly doesn’t get any better than that.

Attending Music Row Happy Hour with Buzz Brainard at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville has become one of Nashville’s favorite pastimes, so much so that CMA Fest-goers considered it one of the hottest places to be. That’s why we planned a visit there Sunday afternoon and heard Morgan Evans, Kelsea Ballerini’s self-proclaimed husband and one-man band, perform live. His set included “Kiss Somebody,” “Day Drunk” and “I Do,” and each of them quickly transitioned into sing-alongs.

If you’re not at #Margaritaville you need to be. @morganevansmusic playing now!

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The crowd at the Chevy Riverfront Stage is always somewhat atrocious, but CMA Fest simply wouldn’t be complete without witnessing the music geniuses known as High Valley. From start to finish, brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel kept the energy alive but let’s be honest, that shouldn’t be all that difficult to accomplish when your songs are already outrageously catchy. “She’s With Me,” “Make You Mine,” “I Be U Be” and “Dear Life” were all included in High Valley’s set list.

CMA Fest 2019 is scheduled for June 6-9. See you then!

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