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The monumental country music event started early with Aldean’s fans taking tailgating to a new level, and when the Georgia native himself made a surprise appearance in the parking lot, hysteria ensued.

Aldean’s 90 minute set showcased hit after hit including “Hicktown,” “Big Green Tractor” and “My Kinda Party,” as well as his current single “1994,” on one of the biggest outdoor stages in the nation with high resolution video panels, pyrotechnics and a helicopter flyover. Luke Bryan jumped on stage to perform the reigning ACM Vocal Event of the Year “The Only Way I Know,” then the stadium erupted when GRAMMY award winner and fellow Georgia native Ludacris surprised the crowd by joining Aldean for “Dirt Road Anthem.” Current tour mates Thomas Rhett and Jake Owen were also on the bill.

“Seeing everything come together the way it did tonight and feeling the energy of the crowd is something I will never forget,” said Aldean. “When my mom got here last night, we took a walk around the stadium, and it was really emotional for both of us. This place has always meant so much to me, but when I was a kid, we were flat broke and my mom couldn’t afford to buy tickets for us to go to a game. So I watched on TV and dreamed about one day seeing it in person. Tonight was beyond my wildest dreams…the whole thing has honestly shaken me a little bit…it’s has been a night I will never ever forget.”