Garth at Fan Fair

Garth treated each person as if this moment mattered as much to him as to the fan. He had no quota on the number of autographs he gave a person. He signed T-shirts, sweatshirts, baseballs, CDs, cassettes, photos and scraps of paper. He had no strong-armed aides standing there ready to push people along. The thousand or so waiting fans could see that Garth was acting with goodness and fairness, and they responded with goodness and fairness of their own. He had no minions out there working the line, selling Garth Brooks merchandise either. If it was someone’s birthday, then he and the fans sang “Happy Birthday.” If it was a young girl who began to cry, he calmed her down, and let her feel and see that he was nothing but a man. If it was a child in a wheelchair, he had words to whisper into her ear that she carried away like precious secret jewels.

This man standing here was the greatest-selling solo performer in the history not simply of country music but all American music.”

So shares Laurence Leamer in his book Three Chords and the Truth, describing Garth’s surprise appearance at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville, for Fan Fair 1996, where he went on to sign autographs for 23 straight hours.

According to the Country Music Association’s website, the organization that sponsors the annual event, in 2008 Taylor Swift signed 900 autographs between 10 am and 6 pm, noted as the longest consecutive signing since Garth’s apparently-insurmountable 1996 hang with his fans.

By my calculations that is a total of 8 hours. Garth signed for 23 hours.

There’s a reason why Garth Brooks is Garth Brooks. And there’s a reason why Taylor Swift is currently taking the music world by storm.

Fan Fair is no longer Fan Fair. It is now called the CMA Music Festival, with an intention of broadening the musical appeal of the event beyond just country music.

Regardless, country music fans have a special and steadfast devotion to their favorite performers, something rarely seen in other genres of music.

This week in Nashville, some lucky fan will meet their favorite musician that will have little clue just how much the moment means to said fan.

Also this week in Nashville, some lucky country music star will have the privilege of meeting an individual that allows him/her to be where they are in the first place.


One thought on “Garth at Fan Fair

  1. Great story. I remember this. Garth signed my Rolex with a sharpie. I was just trying to get my sandwich back. I digress…

    Why does Nashville believe it can broaden its stance? Fan Fair, GMA, etc. Focus on the core. Let them evangelize. Grow low and slow. This is the way, to my eyes.

    We need more artists with a care for the fans like Garth had. Maybe symptomatic of societal ills? We don’t seem to care for each other much, so why should artists be different. Maybe this is why so few fans care for artists?

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