The 2016 NHL Fan Fair hit Music City (Nashville, Tennessee) Thursday, January 28, through Sunday, January 31, 2016. It was four days of action for families and fans that featured appearances, interactive games, live broadcasts, meet & greets, memorabilia, music, Q&As, trophies and more. Big & Rich performed Thursday night at the free outdoor stage to kick off this All-Star event.
The “All-Star Game” was the apex of Fan Fair. The game played on January 31, 2016 was a 3-on-3 tournament where the four divisions faced off in a winner-take all format. In this new setup, each class had a roster of six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies. One player from each was voted onto the team by the fans to serve as captain. The All-Star groupings included at least one player from every team in its division. The hosting Nashville Predators had three representatives listing goalie Pekka Rinne, defensemen Shea Weber and Roman Josi on the Central Division All-Stars. The games were 20 minutes in length with a total of 44 players participating. There was also an “All-Star Skill Competition” that took place on Saturday.
Another fun highlight of the NHL Fan Fair was the second installment of the National Hockey League’s “Mascot Showdown” presented by EA Sports NHL 16. Twenty-six NHL Mascots including the Predators Gnash showed off their athletic “prowess” and hockey skills. The Mascots were also out and about on the Fan Fair floor.
Happenings took place indoors and outdoors over the course of four days. On the streets of Nashville were large hockey pucks with pictures of the players who participated in the “All-Star Game”. The outdoor Bridgestone Winter Park hosted free activities and music by Big & Rich, Lee Brice, Chris Young, Dierks Bentley, Kelsea Ballerini, Aaron Lewis, Eli Young Band, John Hiatt, and Tara Thompson. The indoor concert series featured performances from Charles Esten, Clare Bowen, Lennon & Maisy, Tracy Lawrence, Lonestar, Danny Gokey, MercyMe, Lewis Brice, Ryan Hurd, LOCASH, Russell Dickerson, Steven Lee Olsen, Craig Wayne Boyd, DJ DU, and DJ Rock.
The NHL 2016 Fan Fair was held at the Music City Center. The event was geared towards all ages with displays, hockey history, interactive games, rinks and an opportunity to touch and be photographed with the Stanley Cup. Music City became Hockey City for a few days with all Fan Fair venues centrally located to each other and also near hotels, restaurants and the Honky-Tonks. The weather also cooperated. Only a week earlier Nashville had been slammed by Winter Storm Jonas leaving piles of snow that would have made travel difficult.
At the Winter Park Stage on Thursday, 01/28/2016 there were a number of speakers including NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Preds Chairman Tom Cigarran who welcomed folks and give a lot of shout-outs to all the people who made Fan Fest possible. Country duo Big & Rich kicked off the festivities with the catchy “Comin’ to Your City” flowing into a feisty “I Came to Git Down”. Their one-hour set featured hits along with a number of new songs.
“It’s one of the greatest things about country music that we always remember whose shoulders we’re standing on,” stated John Rich as he pointed to the Country Music Hall of Fame. They also paid their respects to the men and women in the armed forces. Big & Rich found a Vietnam Veteran who also happen to be working security. They asked him to sit at the bar on stage as they dedicated “8th Of November” to those who serve and sacrifice. They shared that the song was based on a bartender telling them about his tour in Nam.
They toasted the military and freedom. This was the perfect time to ask for phone lights as everyone sang “God Bless America”. Big & Rich welcomed Cowboy Troy a country rapper to sing on a number of tunes including the animated “Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)”. Surprise guest Lee Greenwood joined them for a moving “God Bless the USA” that folks also sang along to. Big & Rich scored with hockey fans who still had time after their set to enjoy Fan Fair day one inside Music City Center.