At a glance
THEY come in huge numbers – they shop, they dine, they browse and they’re from everywhere.
After all, the NCHA Imax Gold Tamarang Futurity is the pinnacle of the cutting world.
National Cutting Horse Association operations manager Gemma Clarke said competitors came from as far afield as America and New Caledonia, as well as a large contingent from Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.
Some stay in motels, caravan parks and cabins, while the majority stay close to their charges at AELEC in gooseneck trailers and other elaborate rigs.
“Every powered site at AELEC is gone,” Mrs Clarke said.
“We’ve got 15-20 people camping out in the paddock without power as well, most of whom have generators.”
Mrs Clarke said at least a couple of hundred people were staying onsite at AELEC in their own rigs.
“A lot of owners camp offsite in motels and it’s mostly trainers who stay on-site. A lot of the trainers have help with them as well – sometimes five or six people each – which increases our numbers.”
Edward Parry Motel manager Sharon Strathern said she had let three rooms for the whole event to regulars, who come back each year.
“These people are participants in the cutting futurity,” Mrs Strathern said.
“Being country people, they’re so much friendlier.”
The “no vacancy” signs are up at quite a few motels about town, but the rooms aren’t just full of cutting participants and spectators.
Golden Guitar Motor Inn manager Donna Goman said the house full signs were there.
“We do have quite a few NCHA people, but a lot of rooms are let out to our reps,” Mrs Goman said.
“A lot of the NCHA crowd have their big setups out at the equine centre and stay there. We have people that come and stay that watch the program and others that ride.”
It’s much the same story at the nine-room Motabelle Motel, with both participants and spectators occupying their rooms, along with reps and travellers.
Equine Inn owner John Sloane said he doesn’t get as much business from the NCHA Futurity as he used to, putting it down to demographic changes.
“A lot of them camp out there. I used to get a few judges here, but I haven’t seen them for a while. I’ve got a few girls here this year who are competitors and they’ve brought friends along,” Mr Sloane said.
One place near the AELEC precinct doing brisk business is the Good Price Pharmacy Warehouse, according to pharmacy assistant Cheryl Pollock.
“We do get quite a few in here,” Ms Pollock said.
“They’re quite noticeable in their cowboy gear. Mainly they come in for cold and flu tablets because once they’ve travelled here, they tend to pick up a bug.
“Others just come in to buy headache tablets or toothpaste and toiletries. We benefit a lot when the NCHA people are in town. It’s so much closer for them to come here than all the way into the CBD.”
And they’re not just chasing toothpaste and toiletries, either, according to Sheridan Tamworth retail assistant Heather Zell.
“We do pick up some business from the out-of-towners, who are keen to buy anything on sale,” Mrs Zell said.
“Because we’re a factory outlet, we always have really good sales, so if they’re browsing and see something they think is a good buy, they’ll get it.
“It’s much the same as when the Lions convention was in town. We had good sales from that, too.”
Pillow Talk assistant manager Deb Dwyer said she’d had quite a few NCHA customers in.
“Some, who are staying in caravans and cabins, have come in to buy mattress toppers, all sorts of stuff, really,” she said.
Every cowboy, cowgirl and spectator has to eat, so many find it convenient to drop in to Bibs & Ribs Bar and Grill at Tamworth Homespace, where Courtney Northard said ribs were popular for both lunch and dinner with the NCHA set.
At this time of year, there’s usually a sea of cowboy hats, boots, buckles and spurs at the Longyard Hotel.
The Pub Group manager Craig Power said many of the cutting fraternity adopted the Longyard as their local watering hole for the duration of the futurity.
“It’s been a bit quiet this week, but next week will be the big one,” Mr Power said.
“They tend to use it as a bit of a base after their events finish. It’s like a big reunion, really.
“They’re the nicest bunch of people. There’s never a problem. They’re always well-behaved.”