THEY might not be the white knight riding to rescue the queen but Tamworth Regional Council says it will back anyone who wants to take over running the iconic country music festival queen quest.
The Tamworth regional mayor Col Murray yesterday joined the chorus of concern over the Tamworth Business Chamber’s decision to opt out of running the longstanding festival event.
The chamber revealed on Monday it was dumping the queen quest after 30 years because it didn’t have the resources to run it, and in practice, it was an event outside its “core business”.
Councillor Murray said he was saddened by the latest events surrounding what had been a wonderful ambassadorial festival event and a significant local part of the festival calendar.
But, he said, the council didn’t have the budget or the people to run it either, at least not in its current budgetary state.
“Our existing funds are tied up this year; we don’t have anything in this budget and it’s a people-hungry resource,” Cr Murray said.
“It doesn’t cost a huge amount of money but the expectations of it are extremely high.”
Cr Murray said the chamber had approached it earlier on to assume ownership and management of it again. While it was originally a chamber initiative, it had been run by the council for about 10 or 12 years before going back under the chamber’s wing in 2011.
Cr Murray said the council didn’t want to see the quest die but wanted to see someone else take it on.
That someone, he suggested, could be a service club conglomerate or joint charity group that could contribute the volunteer resources needed to do the physical work behind the scenes.
“It has been a wonderful ambassadors’ program and we’re not prepared to turn our backs on it and let it die, but we don’t have the financial or people resources to run it, but we’ll assist someone else with the capacity to do that with sponsorship and promotion .”
He would not be drawn on suggestions that the business community of Tamworth, while it derived a high-profile and promotional kudos from the queens’ prominent presence during the festival, had to bear some of the blame for the shortfall in financial support.
It is known that the chamber had been shopping the quest to businesses for some time to get the monetary backing to make it a financial goer.
Cr Murray said the queens’ quest had a significant amount of integrity to it, it had evolved into the Tamworth culture and presented a cultural challenge and although it didn’t attract festival fans, it was a significant part of the festival calendar and a local one.