Benson Tells Fan Fair Opening Crowd of Plans to Relocate

If the crowd gathered for this year’s 29th annual International Country Music Fan Fair had a vote, the four-day lovefest between country music artists and their fans would stay where it is.

Country Music Association chief Ed Benson endured a chorus of “boos” this morning (June 12) at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds when he told the grandstand crowd that the event will move to a new location next year.

Gary, 37, a house painter from Lee, Mass., made his third trip to Fan Fair this year. Each year he arrives on Sunday, stays at the Opryland Hotel and takes advantage of the opportunity to hear the music he loves. “All the stars are here,” Gary said as he waited for this year’s event to begin. “You can’t see ’em anywhere else like this.”

Like many in the sweltering audience for the Giant/Atlantic label shows, Gary would like to see Fan Fair stay at the Fairgrounds. “I’m so used to it now, and I like the accommodations,” he said. “If it moves, it’ll probably be all screwed up for the first three years, but I’d go, wherever it was.”

After Diamond Rio’s performance of the National Anthem to open this year’s edition of the event, Benson told the crowd that Fan Fair 2001 will take place June 14-17, a Thursday through Sunday.

He promised that the event will be outside and that he will announce the location — either the Adelphia Coliseum downtown or the under-construction Nashville Superspeedway in Wilson County — by the end of July.

In a nod to new technology, Benson encouraged the country-loving throng to stop by the registration area to leave their name, address and email address, so they could be informed immediately of plans for next year.