I went to a solar eclipse party in the path of totality -- here's what it was like

Eclipse nashville partyBob Bryan/Business InsiderSeeing the eclipse was surreal.

For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will grace the continental US from coast to coast.

Tens of thousands of people travelled to view the historic eclipse across the US, and one of the biggest destinations was Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville is along the 70-mile wide path of totality, meaning the moon completely covered the sun.

Given the historic magnitude of the eclipse, we decided to head down to Nashville to take in this once in a lifetime event on the ground.

We headed just outside of town to a party in the Tennessee woods.

With 300 other people, a bluegrass band, and a lot of amazing Southern cooking, it was the ideal way to take in the phenomenon.

Here’s what it was like.

The party took place at Hachland Hill, a wedding venue, vineyard, and retreat center about 20 miles from downtown Nashville.

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Hachland Hill was founded by Southern cooking legend Phila Hach, an author of cookbooks and host of one of the first cooking shows on TV.

Hach hosted 'Kitchen Kollege' from 1950 to 1956, becoming the first female host of a television show. She also published 17 cookbooks while running Hachland Hill Inn.

(Full disclosure: I know the grandson of Phila Hach, whose family owns Hachland Hill and that was the reason I was able to gain access to the event.)

Travel to Nashville, one of the largest cities in the path of totality, was expected to be heavy with plane tickets running over $1000 to fly in for the weekend.

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The drive to the venue wasn't particularly terrible, but as many as 1.4 million people were expected to visit Tennessee for the eclipse, so locals were bracing for a crush of visitors. Also along the drive were a multitude of warning signs on the roads telling people when the eclipse was occurring and warning drivers not to stop or pull over during the eclipse.

It was a clear day for the eclipse. Some areas in South Carolina and elsewhere were projected to have rain.

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Arriving at Hachland Hill there was parking and then were directed past the main barn up to a clear hill.

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Here was our viewing location just up the hill in a clearing. It was hot, around 93 degrees and high humidity, but not unusual for August in the South. There were 300 people who attended the event with tickets costing $40. The ticket came with admittance to the after party and meal.

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One of the perks was beer from the local spot Tailgate Brewing. This brew, named 'Total Eclipse of the Tart,' was a fruity sour.

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Hachland Hill rolled out the red carpet with eclipse gear. Paige Mattern and Jori Deal of Pittsburgh came down to help out with the eclipse.

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As the moon began to cover the sun, partygoers played a variety of games like cornhole and giant Jenga.

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Anne McGavin and Jeni Bond came from Hapersville, Alabama and Tampa, Florida for the party. They said they picked Hachland Hill just from searching online.

Some people travelled with special camera equipment that allowed them to take clearer photos of the eclipse.

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Dan Pratt of St. Paul, Minnesota and Rob Dressler of Chicago had come with a large group from Chicago and Minnesota with speciality equipment from Canon in order to caputer a clear shot of the totality.

Elizabeth Pratt, also of Chicago, said that some in their group had been planning to come see the eclipse for years and they had booked their trip to Nashville.

As the moon starting to take a significant chunk of the sun's light, people started checking it out with their eclipse glasses.

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A lot of local Nashvillians came out for the event including David Rue, Lyle Beasley, Chris Cain, Tammy Wolcott, and Karen Rich. Hachland Hill provided eclipse glasses for all in attendance. According to one Hachland Hill employee, the first batch of glasses they ordered popped up online as suspect, so they had to get a second batch.

People came from far and wide, even from San Jose, California.

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Brian Law and Yesenia Murguia, both of San Joe, said they decided to come to Nashville after looking at a map of the path of totality and picking a major city. According to Law, they decided not to go to Oregon along with many other Californians to catch the eclipse because they didn't want to fight the crowds.

As the eclipse closed in on totality, the shadows got longer and people were craning their necks to see the remaining sliver of the sun.

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The totality occurred between 1:27 and 1:29 pm, Central Time, in Nashville. As the moon covered the sun, the crowd starting hooting and hollering.

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At one point I think I heard someone yell that they were getting pulled into the sky, but thankfully, it was a joke.

Along the edges of the view from the hill it looked as if the sun was setting on all sides with wonderful shades of purple and pink painting the sky.

It was impossible to get a good shot of the sun with my phone, but the temperature dropped considerably and lightning bugs came out as if it was evening.

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The feeling was incredible. To be honest, I didn't have the highest expectation for the eclipse, but the sensation was awe-inspiring. It felt as if someone had suddenly dimmed the lights on the whole world. It was disconcerting, however, and the reports of people in the past going mad over eclipse sort of made sense in the moment.

Everyone lingered for another 15 minutes after the sun began to appear again and the world returned to normal and then headed back down the hill to the main barn for the after party.

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Carter Hach, now the executive chef at Hachland Hill, prepared a meal for attendees including 'moon pie,' 'Black out buns,' and good old fashoned Southern pulled pork.

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Local artist Tess Erlenborn painted a scene of the eclipse immediately afterward to be raffled off at the event.

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While still in progress when I took the picture, Erlenborn said it would feature the view of the horizon during the middle of totality.

The after party featured two local banks in Hachland Hills event space.

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People ate and the conversation about the event was buzzing.

'That's the coolest thing I have ever seen in my life,' said one attendee. Another, who travelled from Minnesota for the eclipse, said he put the date down on a calendar decades ago and was glad to have finally seen it.

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