TAMWORTH’s venues are reporting bumper crowds for the festival, and that can “partly” be put down to soaring temperatures.
With the mercury hitting 40 plus on a regular basis, country music fans are looking for cooler options and pubs and clubs are reaping the rewards.
Wests’ Entertainment Group has reported excellent patronage over the first five days of the festival and CEO Rod Laing told The Leader he didn’t think things would slow down either, with the Australia Day long weekend set to be their peak period.
“The two clubs involved in the country music festival were pretty well stretched over the weekend,” he said.
“The entertainment areas have been at capacity and we are very happy with all the entertainment to date. The free entertainment lounge areas have been at capacity all day and afternoon.
“The dining areas are going well – I know there was a record broken at Banjo’s (at Wests’ League Club) on Saturday night.”
Mr Laing said he believed crowds would “most definitely” be escaping the heat.
“I don’t think too many people would be wanting to be out in 42 degrees at 1pm,” he said.
“People are looking for cool places to go. The biggest part of our program is on the long weekend and if you call 36 degrees cool, things won’t change.”
I'd say by mid afternoon, as the sun beats down on the pavement, some of our patrons are retreating to the comfort of air conditioning in one of our venues.Barry Harley - Festival manager
He said diversity was also a big driver for Wests’ with Darlyn Braithwaite’s concert on Tuesday night expected to be a near sell-out.
Festival manager Barry Harley said he was happy with crowd numbers so far.
“Our early reports are it is pretty similar to previous years,” he said.
“But I’d say by mid afternoon, as the sun beats down on the pavement, some of our patrons are retreating to the comfort of air conditioning in one of our venues. Venues are reporting that their numbers are well up.
“If you do the maths, if you lose from the street you’re gaining them in the venues, and that’s all still very good – it’s a good problem to have. The early reports of attendances are good, there’s good ticket sales as well as a massive amount of free entertainment that is being well supported.”
Festival stalwart Max Ellis believed the heat might have impacted on local fans exploring the festivities.
“Visitors come prepared, but the locals would rather stay at home than get out,” he said.
“The opening concert was one of the biggest crowds at an opening I think I have seen. I don’t believe the heat is affecting it (the festival) substantially.”