TAMWORTH mayor Col Murray believes the 2013 country music festival was another huge success.
Cr Murray said the biggest highlight was the Golden Guitar Awards at TRECC on Saturday night.
“It was truly just an amazing production and so many people from the industry said how wonderful it was to have all the artists on stage and for it to be more of a concert format than a television production,” he said.
Another highlight, as a fan of “that old traditional Australian country music” was the Roll of Renown.
While Cr Murray said yes, crowds were down this year, he doesn’t necessarily believe that’s a bad thing.
“We will get a real idea of numbers and things when we meet with other stakeholders later this week,” he said. “But to me bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.”
Cr Murray said he believed the number of visitors this year was closer to the ideal.
“When you talk to retailers in Peel St they say the crowd was down but sales were up,” he said.
“The other thing we are hearing is that ticketed shows had really strong sales this year too.”
On the back of the huge 2012 40th anniversary event a few less visitors were anticipated.
“We were probably close to hitting maximum capacity last year,” Cr Murray said.
“But when that happens you trigger a lot of pressure points and that’s not necessarily what we want for the festival either.”
The success of the buses and the festival timetables is something Cr Murray said the city should be proud of.
“There were some huge movements on buses during the festival and no real traffic bank ups and congestion that we have experienced before,” he said.
“I met with police and they were happy with the general behaviour of visitors. The only exception was a few locals right at the beginning but they were sorted out.”
The issue of busking was a controversial one for some this festival but Cr Murray said he believed the new, more regulated formula had worked.
“I believe the new way of running it worked,” he said.
“There may be some things that come up over the next few weeks that need to be slightly massaged into shape but the music industry reps we have spoken to said they believed it encouraged more young and up-and-coming talent, rather than people who bomb out Peel St with noise but can’t necessarily sing.”
He said he hoped for next year usage of Bicentennial Park would increase again.
“To me that was something we hadn’t done before that worked really well,” he said.
Next on the agenda will be a number of meetings with council staff and other stakeholders and the annual public wash-up meeting.
“It will probably be in February,” Cr Murray said.
“Between now and then a lot of market research will be collected and customer surveys done.”
Cr Murray said after the public meeting more strategic meetings would be held to plan the 2014 festival.
In terms of planning ahead Cr Murray said he hoped to bring to the table the idea of incorporating country music festival heritage day celebration into next year’s event and the suggestion that more be included on the last day of the 10-day festival program to keep visitors here on the final day.
He said it was likely , as it does most years, the issue of price gouging will be raised during wash-up talks too.
“It happens every year, whether it be a bottle of water, motel accommodation or food prices,” Cr Murray said.
“And it’s still happening so we need to work out what to do there.”