UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL – FAN FAIR PARTIES

What's the best way to spend quality time with your favorite stars? Go to their fan club get-togethers, of course!

To show his appreciation for their support, Charlie gave a belt buckle to each fan at his fan club party who'd been to 100 Charlie Daniels Band shows. But one fan at Charlie Daniels Park outside Nashville was qualified to receive a belt full of buckles! "I've been to 745 shows since the early '80s!" grins Ken Price of Spartanburg, S.C. So, what's the appeal of the man who wrote and sang "The Devil Went Down to Georgia"? Ken smiled. "I love to hear Charlie," he said, " 'cause he tells it like it is!"

The 100 fans gathered at the Loews Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel for Clay's first-ever official party presented their favorite singer with a specially made "Entertainer of the Decade" award. For Clay, historically snubbed at awards shows, it was the first trophy he'd ever received. "There'll never be another first," he said, "and I got it from the people who mean the most to me."

Ty's "California Dreamin' " party at Nashville's Broken Spoke was a family affair, with his mom (and fan club president), Peggy, and his grandmother Myrtle on hand. Now a California resident, Ty welcomed more than 150 fans, who came from such faraway places as Nevada and Hawaii to bid on silent-auction items and hear Ty perform. "My first year at Fan Fair, I was scared to death," admitted Ty. "Now I just love it!"

The night was hot. How hot? So hot that one star took off his underwear to peddle to the highest bidder! It was all part of the fun at the Wildhorse Saloon benefit auction for Chely's Reading, Writing & Rhythm Foundation -- which also boasted Vince Gill and Amy Grant, Clay Walker, Terri Clark and pop singer Lance Bass. "It was a very good deal -- and I needed a new pair of underwear!" exclaims Anne Bragg of Macon, Ga., who paid $800 for TV's Joe Millionaire star Evan Marriott's drawers!

Brad got his 350 fans excited with help from his star pals, including newcomers Jeff Bates, Josh Turner, Tommy Shane Steiner and veterans Steve Wariner and Little Jimmy Dickens. But there wasn't a dry eye in the house when Brad turned over his 2002 CMA Video of the Year trophy to Opry star Little Jimmy, who made a memorable guest appearance in the humorous clip. "I couldn't have made it without him!" said Brad.

Keith Urban headlined the 36th Annual International Fan Club Organization "Fun Fest" Show at the Ryman Auditorium. The three-hour extravaganza featured performances by Nashville Star winner Buddy Jewell and finalists John Arthur Martinez and Miranda Lambert, plus Andy Griggs, Steve Azar, Lila McCann, John Berry, The Wilkinsons, Earl Scruggs, Eric Heatherly, Jimmy Wayne and Jennifer Hanson. IFCO founders Loudilla, Loretta and Kay Johnson were surprised by the CMA with plaques inscribed for outstanding contributions and dedication to the development of fan fair and continued commitment to the fans and artists of country music.

Jerry Roberts of Stewartville, Minn., got an ego-boosting dose of good-natured kidding from the trio -- for coming to the party with six women! "He's here with his harem!" laughed Keith Burns. "Look at all those women!" chimed in Heidi Newfield. "Jerry -- man, you must be a stud! Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!" "What vitamins are you takin'?!" roared Ira Dean. The crowd of 500 at The Trap loved it.

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