It is always good news for Tamworth when an Australia Day long weekend and the annual country music festival collide.
Yesterday, there was a noticeable influx of people as the long weekend got a little closer.
A rostered day off here, and an annual leave day there, provides the perfect recipe for a fun-filled four days in the Country Music Capital.
There has been plenty of discussion about crowd numbers, and while an official figure will materialise sometime next week, it is worth remembering that all the festival fans are not in the one place at the one time.
The festival is much more spread out these days and initiatives this year, which include better use of Kable Ave and Bicentennial Park mean it is much harder to estimate crowd numbers.
The venues too are widespread and different acts at different times spreads the visitors across a large area.
There is plenty of talk also about the music being played. Pop, rock’n’ roll, and rap all have a presence. More other music and less country has the
potential to dilute the festival’s image and the city’s claim to fame.
Helping promote and showcase Australian country music must remain Tamworth’s focus. It has done very well out of the genre for 41 years and it has a debt to pay.
While country music is not for everyone, Tamworth’s iconic festival has something for everyone.
If it’s bush ballads, country rock or even a little yodeling, it can be found, but there is a definite persuasion, particularly among young performers, towards more popular music.
The Academy of Country Music does a great job, but the ultimate goal must be to get more exposure for good quality country music and the people who perform it.
That has always been the biggest challenge and will remain so.
While the genre has some pretty wide boundaries these days, country music does not receive the recognition it deserves.
That’s something Tamworth and all those who come here to enjoy the festival are encouraged to try and fix.