THE future of Tamworth’s iconic Queen of Country Music Quest has been plunged into doubt after organisers yesterday walked away from the event indefinitely.
The Tamworth Business Chamber dropped the bombshell late yesterday afternoon, announcing it would dump the quest due to “resourcing issues” and concerns it was detracting from the organisation’s “core activity”.
It comes just a day after Telstra revealed it would bypass next year’s festival for the first time in a decade as the venue for its Telstra Road to Discovery grand final.
Since 1984 the Queen of Country Music Quest has been a festival favourite, each year crowning a Queen and Princess and allowing hundreds of local young women to act as official ambassadors for the city.
Former winners of the event have reacted with shock at news it may be lost to future generations.
“It is really disappointing, because it was a great opportunity for me personally,” 2010 Queen Anna Charlton said.
“It was a great networking opportunity and opened up a lot of doors.”
Last year’s winner, Dimity Chaseling, said the quest had a profound impact on her, even before she entered for the first time.
“I remember growing up and seeing the queen around town and really looking up to her,” Ms Chaseling said.
“It was a great personal growth experience for me ... it’s disappointing other women may not get that chance again.”
Tamworth Country Music Festival founder Max Ellis urged the council or another community group to “pick up the pieces” and revive the quest.
“It’s incredibly sad that it could be gone, because it’s such a significant part of the festival,” Mr Ellis said.
“All the queens have been exceptional people and they really are ambassadors of the whole festival.
“They serve as queen throughout the whole year and they get so much out of it personally.
“I really hope another group can get involved and save it.”
Tamworth Business Chamber president Tim Coates said it had been a gut-wrenching decision for the chamber executive to make.
“There is no doubt the quest is steeped with history, but it is important as a chamber that we shift our focus to support the chamber’s own core goal, which is to assist local business,” Mr Coates said.
“The chamber board acknowledge ... the quest, although of great significance to the festival and the community, is not part of the core activity of the chamber.
“We did seek, over a period of time, alternative solutions, but at this point none of these have come to fruition.”
He said the chamber would launch a young executive mentoring program to replace the quest.