Tip of the hat as Hall of Fame moves out

HATS OFF: From left, volunteers Eric Scott, Margaret Lansley, Hilary Scott and Kevin Lansley prepare to bid farewell to the Mechanics’ Institute building, which has housed the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame for more than 20 years. Photo: Gareth Gardner 010714GGB02

HATS OFF: From left, volunteers Eric Scott, Margaret Lansley, Hilary Scott and Kevin Lansley prepare to bid farewell to the Mechanics’ Institute building, which has housed the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame for more than 20 years. Photo: Gareth Gardner 010714GGB02

VOLUNTEERS have doffed their hats to a building that for more than 20 years has been inextricably linked to Tamworth’s status as the Country Music Capital of Australia.

This week’s Hats Off to Country festival marks the final event before the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame vacates its Brisbane St premises and relocates across town.

The old Mechanics’ Institute building, built in 1866, has hosted countless country music-loving visitors since its transformation into the Hall of Fame in the early 1990s.

A band of volunteers will soon embark on the painstaking process of shifting the museum’s collection of more than 20,000 photos, records, costumes, instruments and other curios.

Australian Country Music Foundation president Eric Scott said despite the formidable challenge ahead of them, it was an exciting time for those behind the Hall of Fame.

“We enjoyed this old building very much, because we’ve been looking after the wretched thing for 20-odd years,” he said, with obvious affection.

“But it’s exciting, it’s not bittersweet.”

In May, Tamworth Regional Council sealed a deal to relocate the Hall of Fame to the former visitor information centre in Peel St.

Mr Scott said the Hall of Fame would close its doors on Tuesday, but there was no date as yet set down for its grand opening at the new premises. “It will take between three and four months to actually set up (at the new building),” he said.

“We’ve got to get used to the building and see what we can do. It’s mainly that we’ve got to become familiar with the building and we can’t do that until we’re actually in there.”

In addition to its displays, the Hall of Fame will hold a record and book sale throughout Hats Off to Country before hosting a special “Country Cuppa in the Courtyard Concert” on Sunday from 10am.

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