The 2008 CMA Music Festival, held June 5-8 in Nashville, notched record numbers, with its average daily attendance of about 52,000 -- up 9% over last year.

A total of 180 acts performed more than 34 hours of concerts at a wide range of venues, including LP Field and RiverFront Park. Among the performers were Rascal Flatts, Kellie Pickler, Jewel, Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Montgomery Gentry, Keith Urban, Alan Jackson, Trace Adkins, Josh Turner, Little Big Town, Sara Evans, Dwight Yoakam, Kenny Rogers and Miranda Lambert.

“Our event has gained a reputation as being a first-class event, and you know you’re going to get your money’s worth when you get here,” CMA CEO Tammy Genovese tells Billboard.biz, adding that the CMA is a bargain with a ticket range of $150-$255 for four days. “People are looking for somewhere to have a great time, a great entertainment value, and not break the bank.”

Tickets for CMA Music Festival 2009, which will be held June 11-14, went on sale Saturday (June 7) and Gold Circle four-day ticket packages sold out in a record 15 minutes. By Sunday, advance sales bested sales during the same period in 2007 by 4.2%.

The artists and celebrities participating in CMA Music Festival are not paid, but the CMA donates half the net proceeds from the event to music education on their behalf through a partnership with the Nashville Alliance for Public Education called “Keep the Music Playing.” To date, CMA has donated more than $1 million on behalf of the artists who participate in the festival.

Addressing speculation that one day the CMA Music Fest might move to another city, Genovese says, “there is absolutely no way” that will happen. ABC will air a prime time special on the festival on Sept. 8.

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