Fan Fair - 1999

Lori Shirley from Boone, Iowa shares her family's Marty activities from Fan Fair week with us.

We're home from Fan Fair and what a week it was. Marty here, Marty there, four days of Marty, Marty and more Marty! It was absolutely fantastic.

We arrived in Nashville on Sunday around noon so spent the afternoon downtown. Ate at the Nascar Cafe and rode the new carousel, then took a trolley ride (we thought we were stopping on Music Row, but ended up on this trolley for an hour sightseeing--not fun). In the evening we checked out Music Valley. Had to see Marty's footprints in cement again. Then we got to bed early.

Monday morning we headed to Fan Fair. Checked out Marty's booth first. Met Willie. He was manning the booth this year while everyone was at the fan club party. Then we checked out the other exhibits so we'd know what was what. At 11:00 a.m. we headed to Smiley Hollow. Only took one wrong turn (Kevin missed the first smiley face). Very cool place. It was sprinkling a bit but we were so excited to see Marty that we really didn't notice. And it did clear up later. Met Sheila while waiting to go in.

We sat across from this guy who was in Marty's "Red, Red Wine and Cheatin' Songs" video. He wasn't real happy when I told him it had been canceled. Met LaDonna and her friend in the awesome food line. Met Reneé and Jordan after eating. Nick and I then decided it was time to buy the long-awaited CD. While waiting in line, that's where we met Sherry. Let's see, we bought the CD, a T-shirt, a Marty stand-up and a couple pictures. Nick was getting restless awaiting Marty's arrival so we decided to hang out outside for a bit. Just in time, too, because Marty and Connie drove up right then in his black Cadillac!

Jodee started the party out with drawings for Marty duffel bags full of Marty stuff. Nick won the second one! Wow, we were so excited. His bag included a T-shirt (which Marty signed later), an insulated drink up, write-on board, notepad and comic book. He loves it all. Mike and that crazy blowhorn brought out the band. It was fun to hear Marty sing songs we don't normally hear. Connie was great. Jennifer, Tami and little Anna, you guys just stole the show! When Marty called his mom up and sang "The Pilgrim," there were not only tears in Marty's eyes, but mine and probably everyone else's too. Very touching. The whole show was so much fun. Marty in his top hat and tennis shoes.

I also met Bev, Terri, Mary and several others. Met Mario too. That made the party so much more fun to meet all of you. Dumb me, I missed the group picture. We were in line to meet Marty. His sister Jennifer had arrived and was talking to us and some others in line. I didn't realize it was time and when I looked, the picture had been taken and everyone was walking away. I could just shoot myself.

We got our pictures with Marty. I told him we love him in Iowa and he said, "We love you too." Nick had fun swinging and playing basketball and I had fun watching people go through the meet and greet line. Nick and Kevin tried dunking Mike but didn't hit it. We went over and met Connie and had her sign my CD. She is so sweet! It was all over too soon as we watched Marty and Connie climb into their car and drive away.

After the party and a quick stop at our motel, we headed out for Cheekwood. What a great exhibit. Marty's eye for capturing the moment in pictures is wonderful. Hope you all got to see it.

Tuesday, we headed to the fairgrounds. Marty's booth definitely had the most excitement going on. You couldn't even move, there were so many people around. We got in line, waited about one hour and, since at the fan club party we took individual pictures with Marty, today we took a family pix with him. He had on this black velvet shirt with purple flowers on it and purple suede boots. We told him we liked the books and he said, "They came from Wal-Mart!" Yeah, right.

Tuesday night was the MCA show and Marty was awesome on that show! Sang 6 songs and really had the crowd going. His mandolin playing was so great on "The Pilgrim" but some of the crowd was in a more rowdy mood, I think, and may not have appreciated it. We loved it through, but it was over all too soon.

Wednesday morning we checked out the Country Music Hall of Fame and saw Marty's Hank Williams exhibit. Wow, does Marty own some impressive items. Nick and Kevin went to play disc golf so I had a few hours to myself. Watched Marty arrive at the booth, then checked out other booths. Not much going on, so I headed back to Marty's booth where the party was! Backup singers we are not, but we had fun trying. When "Red, Red Wine..." came on, we all started singing. Mike passed around the blowhorn and Marty just laughed at us. Too much fun!

Thursday, we got in line to meet Marty one last time. Had fun waiting in line as I met Penny, Cindy and talked with Sheila and Jodee and others. Today Marty arrived dressed in his suit with a pink tie. Just so handsome! But he looked so tired. I told him "Thanks for making Fan Fair a great one for us," and he said, "It sure was a good one, wasn't it?" It wasn't long and Marty was gone. The Rock and Roll Cowboys took over for a while and we had fun meeting them again. We walked by the booth one last time before closing and got some free Marty fans.

All too soon, it was over. But what great memories.

Our 13-hour drive home sure was a long one but thank God we had The Pilgrim to listen to. It must have repeated at least 10 times. And Nick already knows all the words to "Red, Red Wine and Cheatin' Songs." So far, it's his favorite.

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