IT RAISES its head during and after every festival and this year is no different.
The festival punters have come and gone, largely enjoying themselves, but some have left behind a message.
Come to Tamworth at any other time of the year and you enjoy a friendly, well-serviced regional city with a big reputation.
Come during the 10-day Country Music Festival and prepare to pay higher prices as some businesses cash in on the big influx of visitors.
To be fair, it is not all businesses, just some, but there are enough to leave a sour taste in the mouths of those who believe they are being fleeced.
Unfortunately, they will go home and tell others and that is publicity Tamworth does not need or want.
Price gouging, it would seem, is one of the festival’s biggest issues.
While official attendance numbers are not in yet, there is a feeling among some of the locals that crowd numbers were down.
Generally, that could be the case, but some venues are reporting an excellent festival result, which means they have secured their share of the festival crowds.
The price gouging issue is already being discussed among the elected representatives of Tamworth Regional Council.
They received the message loud and clear from disgruntled festival fans.
The council is well aware that protecting the festival’s reputation is an important responsibility.
Council cannot regulate the prices businesses charge, nor would it ever want to. But it is conscious that the city cannot take its festival for granted. All stakeholders have a responsibility to defend and grow what we have.
The council will need to have open and frank discussions with the business community about the price gouging issue, to ensure everyone understands the potential impact it can have on the festival in the longer term.
The council, however, can initiate a quality-assurance program and enlist the help of businesses that do the right thing, to ensure festival fans know who they can trust.