Riverside camp grounds for the 2013 Country Music Festival officially opened yesterday.
Tamworth’s deputy mayor Russell Webb and council’s general manager Paul Bennett did the honours in 30 degree heat at 11am.
If yesterday’s scorching heat is anything to go by the thousands of campers estimated to converge on Tamworth for the duration of the 10-day event could swelter but it’s not keeping them away.
As has become tradition in recent years campers arriving early resulted in the grounds being opened a day early this year.
More than 40 sites have already been booked and hundreds more are expected between now and the end of the weekend.
Cr Webb was excited to see campers already setting up and in the festival spirit.
Council’s manager of health and environment Ken Reid said up to 1700 sites were expected to be filled throughout the duration of the festival with “about 4000 campers based on an average of three people per site,” he said.
“If the heat doesn’t keep them away.”
Among those already on site at Riverside were mates Wayne “Waylon” Jennings from Geelong and Noel Richards.
Wayne arrived in Tamworth on Tuesday and this year is significant for him.
“It’s my 40th year this year,” he said. “I have only missed one year and that was because my car got torched, I had gallstones another year but that didn’t keep me away.”
He said he was “keen as mustard” for the 2013 event and that mateship and the music kept bringing him back. Noel agreed.
He’s been coming to Tamworth with his wife Susan for the past 20 years, usually a week early “to get a prime spot”, on their only annual holiday.
They drove all night to get here again this year, arriving at 6.30am yesterday after finishing work.
“We come from Oakey and work on the chook farms and each year this is our annual holiday,” he said.
Usually Neil and Susan travel down in a “Bundy Bus” but because Noel had a brain aneurysm between this festival and last they had to hook a camper trailer up to the ute this year.
“The bus will be back next year when I can drive again,” he said.
Noel and Wayne met at a festival years ago and now, along with almost 30 others, meet up each year.
“The rest of the group should all be here by Sunday afternoon,” Noel said.