With 550 vendors, you won’t have time to visit all of the booths in a single day. If you’re going to give that marathon a try, at least formulate your strategy using the floor plan or download the mobile app from the Google Playstore or iTunes. Coupled with official NRA events, seminars and other functions, most members will be spending at least a night or two, and there’s a lot to see and do in Nashville.
You’ll have to eat, but home-brewed Nashville fare requires a warning. “Hot chicken” was born here when Thornton Prince’s girlfriend sought revenge on his cheating habits. She made his favorite dinner and asked, “Would you like some more chicken with your pepper?” He loved it, started a restaurant with the recipe and by the mid-1930s his eatery made him a culinary legend. Don’t worry, there are plenty of less-scalding versions and menu options downtown are nearly limitless.
Sights you might want to take in before leaving include RCA Studio B, “The Home of a Thousand Hits,” where Elvis Presley recorded more than 250 songs. Other performers who once sang in the studio include Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, The Everly Brothers, Chet Atkins and Bobby Bare. The facility opened in 1957 and closed, coincidentally, on the day of Elvis’ death.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opened in 1967 on the city’s Music Row. Today it houses a vast collection of country music’s history, including video clips, memorabilia and much more.
If you’re driving past Lynchburg, why not stop at the Jack Daniels Distillery? I’m not into things like the Belmont Mansion, although I find it interesting that during the Civil War owner Adelicia Acklen was one of the richest women in the nation. She was smart, too. When her cotton crop was threatened with being burned to the ground, she went to Louisiana and sold it to the Rothschilds of London for nearly $1 million in gold.
The nation’s first FM radio station was established in Nashville in 1941, so turn off that satellite radio in honor of that fact. The city is home to more than 150 live-music venues—each displaying a guitar-shaped “Live Music Venue” sign—President Andrew Jackson’s home has a driveway shaped like a guitar and the Parthenon, built for Tennessee’s Centennial Exposition in 1897, is an exact replica of the ancient Greek temple.
There’s a lot to see and do at the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits, and coupled with the Nashville experience, it’s kind of adventure every member of the family can enjoy. And that’s really the role of this once-a-year springtime event—bringing the NRA family together from every corner of the nation.
Photo courtesy of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation