Independence Day celebration with Willie Nelson at COTA

It's an Austin tradition that's been going on for more than four decades. Since 1973, thousands of people have gathered to hear Willie Nelson perform at his annual Fourth of July picnic joined each year by other artists.

This year it was at COTA. People from near and far agree, Willie Nelson is not only a Texas icon, but an American one.

“Willie is a part of American culture,” We’re big Willie fans. Grew up listening to him, it's kind of in our blood,” Audy Cowsky, concert attendee, said.

Cowsky and her husband came all the way from Florida to catch the action.

“This is our first time. We were with family for the Fourth of July so we decided to come here,” she said.

This is the 43rd edition of the musical picnic, but just the second time at Circuit of the Americas and fans are loving the choice of venue.

“I'm a racer myself, drag racing. It's at a racetrack that's why I'm here. I’ve got the RV parked over there. Been here since 9:00 yesterday morning,” Kenny Bass, concert attendee said.

Our cameras were not allowed to shoot performances per festival policy, however, Bass gave us a private concert singing one of his favorites by Willie.

"Whiskey river take my mind, don't let her memory torture me," Bass sang.

The picnic is held in various Texas cities each year, but because this is close to Willie's birthplace, Austin could always have an unofficial leg up in the future.

The all day event featured not only Willie Nelson, but more than 19 other artists, including several from Texas like “Jamestown Revival,” “Asleep at the Wheel,” and “Shaky Graves.”