This year, CMA Fest joins a growing list of major country music events to ban attendees from displaying Confederate imagery.
The four-day Nashville festival – considered one of the largest country music gatherings in the world – lists “Confederate flag imagery of any kind” under prohibited items for the 2022 event, according to cmafest.com.
“This year’s CMA Fest is our first major fan-facing event in nearly three years. We have always had policies in place that protect the safety of our fans and ban discrimination, but we felt it was important to further refine our language to explicitly outline what will and will not be tolerated,” said a statement from the Country Music Association provided Wednesday to the Tennessean.
The statement continued, “In line with our first CMA Fest lineup announcement in early April, our event policy was published on our website, which states any behavior that causes one of our attendees to fear for their personal safety will not be tolerated, and that is inclusive of any displays of the Confederate flag.”
An under-the-radar decision from the association, banning Confederate likeness at CMA Fest follows California-based Stagecoach Festivalimplementing similar measures across campsites and event grounds last April.
The decision comes as many artists, advocates and industry leaders continue to push for racial equality in country music. Once used as a contentious symbol of the format’s Southern roots, some hitmakers and gatekeepers now reckon with the racist history represented in Confederate imagery.
Last year, genre torchbearer Luke Combs apologized for his past use of the Confederate flag during a discussion at Nashville’s annual Country Radio Seminar.
“As I’ve grown in my time as an artist, and as the world has changed drastically in the last five to seven years, I am now aware how painful that image can be,” Combs said at the time. “…I would never want to be associated with something that brings so much hurt to someone else.”
After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 precautions, CMA Fest returns June 9-12 to downtown Nashville.
Reporting by The Tennessean.