HATS will go off to country this weekend, but the gloves will be staying on.
The annual mid-year Hats Off to Country Festival boasts 80 performers this year, with a strong contingent of local country singers.
Instead of the high summer heat, crowds will get their musical feast in what is expected to be decidedly cooler conditions.
But according to organisers and venue operators, that’s the magic of Hats Off.
Werris Creek’s Marie Hodson said she was looking forward to the smaller, more intimate crowds compared to the sea of people that swamp the January festival.
Not a songwriter herself, she said she preferred to give voice to the ballads that would otherwise go unsung.
Golden Guitar-winning musician Ashleigh Dallas said she valued the support from locals.
“I love playing in my home town,” she said.
Though she is inspired when she is on the road, the finishing touches to her songs are always completed at her home in Kootingal.
She said she was “stoked” to support Adam Harvey’s charity event Give Me 5 For Kids to raise money for the children’s ward at Tamworth hospital.
Local singer-songwriter Aaron Bolton said he liked the “kicked-back” vibe of Hats Off and said it was ideal for up-and-coming songwriters.
“It’s a chance for them to showcase their songs and their talent,” he said.
This year’s Star Maker winner Jared Porter will be launching his new album East to West on July 5 at 5.30pm at the Good Companions Hotel as part of the festival.
The Adam Eckersley Band will be wowing their Tamworth fans, along with musicians Don Costa, Allan Caswell, Luke O’Shea, Crosby Sisters, Tom Maxwell and Shaza Leigh, among others. Vibrant girl group Victoria Avenue are also expected to draw a youthful crowd.
The DAG Sheep Station in Nundle is hosting a singer-songwriter retreat over the course of the weekend, but the Junior Winter Talent Quest was scrapped due to a lack of entrants.
Hats Off to Country 2014 runs from tomorrow to Sunday at venues all over Tamworth.
The full festival program is available at www.hatsofftocountry.com