THE scrapping of the Queen of Country Music Quest has prompted widespread comment and criticism.
Former contestants and community members have voiced their fears after Tamworth Business Chamber announced it would launch a young executive program to replace the Queen of Country Music Quest – and scores of readers have taken to social media to post their responses.
Speaking to The Leader, Queen of Country Music in 1986, Cheryl Byrnes, said her experience was positive “in so many ways”.
“I remember when I was in the quest nearly 30 years ago it gave me the opportunity to meet new friends, share my experiences growing up the industry, and participate in the festival events and assisting visitors,” she said.
“If you were an over-friendly entrant you could shine and share information and a shy entrant would be brought out of their shell – and that’s all- empowering for an individual.
“The competition is an opportunity for locals to engage in the festival. More than 20 young females and their families become attached to this significant event that is a part of the culture of Tamworth by participating in individual and group activities in which they learn about country music, but also about the local community.”
She said she hoped another organisation would consider taking on this event.
“A women’s service group would be ideal as it could encourage membership from the young women who participate in the quest,” Ms Byrnes said.
One of the long serving organisers of the quest, Jane Bradford, said the queen entrants over the years had been golden girls in welcoming visitors and showing friendly faces on the festival streets and at functions. Mrs Bradford said they had been the best tourist guides ever.
Many Facebook respondents said it was a shame to lose the iconic part of the Tamworth Country Music Festival, with others telling their stories of being involved in the quest.
“Such an iconic part of the festival and one of a few things the locals can really get involved in in regards to the behind-the-scenes operations,” former contestant Shell Lewington wrote.
“I remember going to dress- up parties as a kid as the queen of country music ... hopefully another organisation gets behind the event.”