Like a good country song this story starts with a lost dog named Dusty, although this yarn has a happy ending that epitomises the festival spirit.
Last weekend self proclaimed country music and dog “addict” Jen Collard found even more reason to love the atmosphere of the famous festival.
She took her two kelpies, four year old brothers Dusty and Buddy to Bicentennial Park on Friday night to watch the opening show and fireworks.
“They are normally fine with fireworks and things like that, which is why I took them,” Ms Collard said.
“I think Dusty was already excited with all the people and the atmosphere, but when the first firework went off they both bolted. I had them in harnesses and on leads but Dusty got away and took off through the crowd. People were trying to catch him but he was going too fast.”
The light tan flyer was last seen heading east towards the velodrome at about 9.30pm.
Ms Collard immediately went looking for him, as did several other strangers and security who were more than happy to help the devastated damsel in distress, including country artist Imogen Clark.
After walking and driving all over the area calling our and whistling with Buddy, she turned to social media.
“I put it on Facebook that night, it was a nervous wait because I had to be added to the local pages before I could post on there,” she said.
“As soon as it went up though I had the most incredible help, support and generosity from everyone on Facebook and from people all over town – it was amazing and kept me going.”
The posts went viral locally, with most of the festival and town on board in the search for Dusty.
After spending all day Saturday continuing the search, she finally went back to the Riverside Campground “to try and get some sleep” for a second night without one of her best friends by her side.
On Sunday morning, 37 hours later, Ms Collard was again searching in her car, when she received a phone call from local family Chris and Samantha Deaves, who were returning home from taking their three kids out for the morning when one of them spotted a familiar face on Marius st.
“I had just driven through that intersection calling out and was only a block away when they called so I think he must have heard me and stuck his head out. They had seen the posts on Facebook and recognised him – it was amazing.”
“He was hiding under a truck in a drive-way, he still had his lead on and one of the kids was holding him but I had to climb under to get him out – he was a bit scared and I burst into tears.”
“I have never seen a dog smile like that and he gave me a big hug – he was as happy as me.”
The reunited trio then headed off to Paradise waterhole for a celebratory swim after almost two days of searching in the heat.
“To be honest until I found him I hadn’t even noticed how hot it was.”
“I am only here until wednesday so I missed most of the festival, but I saw how great the festival and the Tamworth community spirit is – it has blown me away.”
“That support and positivity really kept me going – I am so grateful.”
“All three of us will be back next year for sure.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.