One of our best: critics silenced as festival returns to halcyon days

THE 2014 Tamworth Country Music Festival has been hailed a resounding success.

As the 42nd festival drew to a close yesterday, organisers, local businesses and festival-goers were all singing its 

praises.

Tamworth Regional Council business and events manager Gavin Flanagan received a number of encouraging words from participants.

“We’ve had some fantastic and really positive comments throughout the festival this year,” he said.

“The vibe and atmosphere continued to pop up more than anything ... everyone really enjoyed the festival, which is great.”

He said while it was difficult to quantify visitor numbers, he estimated figures were slightly up on last year.

“It’s always difficult as it’s not a gated festival and you can’t count ticket sales,” Mr Flanagan said.

“It’s fairly safe to say we were very consistent with the numbers right through the festival. Previously we’ve had slower days.”

Massive crowds turned out to watch the opening and closing concerts and fireworks display at Bicentennial Park, which drew crowds of about 11000 and 8000 respectively.

The number of floats participating in Saturday’s colourful Peel St cavalcade were also up, as were the numbers of buskers showcasing their talents along the Boulevard of Dreams, Mr Flanagan said.

The deluge of country music fans meant local businesses faired exceptionally well, too.

Hi-way Superette owner Karen Bourne said she was inundated by hungry country music fans throughout the 10-day event.

“I’ve done really well, it’s been really good,” Mrs Bourne said.

“At one stage I looked at my til and I had had 50 people within the hour. Normally I average about 30.”

The golden arches also appeared to be a popular choice for festival-goers looking for a meal on the run, with McDonald’s reporting their best festival on record - up 12 per cent on last year.

TRC mayor Col Murray said while the festival was not the biggest yet, everyone involved should be “incredibly proud” of the event as a whole.

“We tend to put too much emphasis on the actual size of the crowd, but I think what’s more important is the experience, the message that goes out and the spend,” Cr Murray said.

“We don’t want 100,000 people coming and spending a dollar each. A much better outcome is having a manageable crowd, like we had this year, spending solidly, which they’ve done.

“At the end of the day, the spend for our local businesses and also the musicians making some money out of the festival are critically important because that keeps it alive.”

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