Top Must-Bring Essentials for the CMA Music Festival

Every year at the CMA Music Festival, hundreds of fans show up over-prepared and over-packed. They come toting so much so that you know that there's no way they can really enjoy the wonderful country music festival to its fullest while having to keep track of so much stuff.

Seasoned CMA Music Festival fans have learned what they need to bring and most all have just their favorite festival essentials which often include things to wear, key things to bring, and something to pack it in.

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Cameras / Electronics

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The last thing you want to do is be lugging around a heavy camera case all week long so unless you're a professional photographer, leave the big bulky camera at home and bring a smaller high pixel digital camera with a good zoom lens.

Nothing's worse than having your camera batteries go dead just as soon as someone like Carrie Underwood walks in the door. Carry extra batteries with you at all times and put fresh new batteries or a newly charged battery in your camera every morning before you head out. For rechargeable batteries, bring your charger with you in case your battery runs out.

The same thing goes for bringing laptops, iPads, and such—leave them at home as they'll just weigh you down.

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Cell Phone

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Yes, bring a cell phone but remember there's almost nothing worse than a phone going down during the CMAfest so make sure to keep it charged or bring a backup battery. While a cell phone camera is handy, you may miss the really good shots by not bringing your small camera with the zoom lens. You'll probably want your phone for calls and for posting things on social media.
Chances are good if someone calls while you're listening to  live music one of three things are going to happen; 1) you will be asked to turn it off, 2) you won't hear it ringing, and 3) even if you do hear it you still won't be able to what hear the person is saying. If around music, put your phone on vibrate so you can feel it vs. hearing it.

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Comfortable Shoes

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Nothing makes a person more miserable than foot pain and if you don't wear good comfortable walking shoes, by the end of the week or even day, your feet will be hurting so leave the cute shoes and boots at home.

If you must bring those pointy-toed western boots or stilettos, only wear them if you're attending a special CMA Music Festival event or specific short-term activity.

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ID Case / Lanyard Container

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Take the time to buy an extra lanyard type container. They are convenient, comfortable, sturdy, and almost impossible to lose if they are worn as intended—around your neck.

You can put your miscellaneous daily event tickets, ID, Credit cards, cash, and such on the back side of the lanyard holder and attach it the backside of your CMA Music Festival lanyard—it's a pretty tight and secure fit. Make sure to place your CMA Music Festival Pass on the top so that security won't be stopping you continuously.

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Money / Credit Cards

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While having a credit card is good for buying some items, you will still need some good ole cash. Most small vendors don't accept credit cards at all. 

Bring the credit cards for convenience and for purchasing larger ticket items. Most all of the local businesses and events surrounding the CMA Music Festival accept them with the exception of street vendors. It's a lot easier to figure out, budget, and track your final CMA Music Festival costs every year too if you have credit card records.

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Copyright Jan Duke
© Jan Duke

If you're a big autograph-seeker, you should always have a sharpie with you because you never know which of your favorite country music stars you'll run across.

Carry several types of Sharpies—the favorite Sharpies to have on hand (anytime) are the mini key-chain sharpies.

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Backpack / Travel Bag

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You shouldn't go so far to say that carrying a backpack (or travel-style purse) is a must do but it is worth serious consideration. 

Small backpacks are great for freeing up your hands but don't make a mistake by bringing a big backpack as they can be bulky and heavy and most venues do not allow big backpacks at all. Instead bring a small light-weight day pack which, for women, can double as a purse.

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During the day, almost all of the musical performances and events take place outside so if you don't wear sunscreen, you will burn.

Put on a good dose of high SPF sunscreen on every morning and anytime you get back to your accommodations. Carry a small pocket size container during daylight hours too.

Sunscreen containers that are either the clip-ons or on key-chains, one for each day of the festival, is ideal.

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Valid ID

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Make sure that you have a valid ID card with you at all times. CMA Music Festival officials sometimes ask to see it in order to compare it with your CMA Music Festival passes and all of the downtown clubs will require an ID as well.

As a precaution, always make and bring an extra photocopy of your ID too. Leave the extra copy in the hotel, just in case

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Expect it to be hot and humid in Nashville and expect to dehydrate.

Water is sold on just about every street corner so buy it, drink it, and drink lots of it. If you see a water fountain, stop and drink some more. If that's not enough, spend some time in one of the mist tents too.

Many venues will now allow you to bring in water but some still don't, so be prepared to toss the bottle and purchase one inside.

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Autograph Materials

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It's a good idea for autograph seekers to bring CD booklets if you're planning to attend any autograph signings. Don't bother with bringing a lot of glossy photos because there are numerous artists that will only sign their officially-issued glossies.

A pad of paper or blank journal can be used to collect autographs if you don't have the CD booklets.

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