Tamworth Country Music Festival 2018: council says early reports indicate venue numbers were up

THE heat may have stifled some of the CBD’s activity, but council is claiming it was a “fabulous festival” with larger crowds.

HOT ENOUGH: Council's Barry Harley sadi the heat knocked the event around during festival. Photo: Peter Hardin 210118PHC0528

HOT ENOUGH: Council's Barry Harley sadi the heat knocked the event around during festival. Photo: Peter Hardin 210118PHC0528

Tamworth Regional Council’s manager of country music, Barry Harley, said early reports indicated crowds in the venues were “higher and steadier”.

“The heat was a little bit stifling at the beginning of the week,” Mr Harley said.

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“That put a bit of pressure on some of our outdoor traders, there might be some who might not have done as well as they wanted, but generally the feeling is one of great success.”

He said CBD and Bicentennial Park events were well attended, but admitted “the heat knocked us around earlier in the week” and there wasn’t much that could be done from an event management perspective.

“It’s an area we’re conscious of, there’s not a lot we can do about it, but we will work to enhance the opportunity for all stakeholders including the traders in Peel St,” he said.

FABULOUS: Tamworth Regional Council manager of country music Barry Harley. Photo: Jacob McArthur

FABULOUS: Tamworth Regional Council manager of country music Barry Harley. Photo: Jacob McArthur

Mr Harley said council has also tried to target different and younger audiences, without forgetting the “backbone” demographic of the festival.

“The backbone of our festival is the rusted-on traditional country music fans, which we would never, ever ignore and about 50 per cent of our audience has been more than 10 years,” he said.

“We have targeted, with a portion of our marketing budget, newer audiences both families with younger kids, but also that 18 to 35 demographic ... with the diversity of music in town, there’s a real essence of just coming in for a couple of days and basically having a party.”

Tamworth liquor accord chair and Longyard Hotel publican Ian Dundon said people flocked to pubs, clubs and venues throughout the festival.

He said the heat would’ve been a factor in the CBD.

“It would’ve been like an airport tarmac, the heat reflecting off the street would have easily been 50 degrees,” he said.

The festival goers were feeling the heat in the venues too, with the Longyard shifting a pallet of water within fours days.

Mr Dundon hadn’t looked at numbers from the festival yet, but said attendance at ticketed events were very good.

He credited the “heavy police presence” throughout the festival for keeping behaviour in-check.

“They were at most venues and walking the streets and there were plenty of licensing officers about,” Mr Dundon said.

“I think it has a stabilising effect.”

Destination NSW was unable to provide any data on 2018 country music festival attendance, but Mr Harley said “survey results” from the organisation were expected in February.

“That will give us demographic information, it’ll give us where they’ve come from and all of those sorts of things,” he said.

Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said more than 50,000 visitors were expected to attend the festival and contribute an estimated $55 million to the local economy.

“The Tamworth Country Music Festival is one of regional NSW’s biggest events and this year was no exception with the festival attracting visitors from far and wide, putting heads on hotel beds, diners in restaurants and shoppers in local boutiques,” Mr Marshall said in a written statement.

“Our state is unquestionably the home of major events and the NSW Government remains committed to investing in rural and regional events because we know they drive overnight visitation while boosting local economies and generating jobs.”

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