EARLY-BIRD country music festival campers will be given their marching orders if they’re in the way of council workers or sporting organisations.
At the weekend, up to 30 campers arrived to claim their spot on the Riverside Sporting Fields, and Tamworth Regional Council expects that number to grow to a few hundred by the end of the week.
The temporary camping grounds don’t officially open until this Friday, however – but many get around the restriction by leaving their caravan hitched to their vehicle.
TRC country music festival manager Barry Harley said the council tolerated early arrivals to the city’s temporary camping grounds, but they had to be ready to move at a moment’s notice.
“Technically they’re not camping, they’re parked,” Mr Harley said.
“It’s great to see visitors keen to start their Tamworth experience, but we make sure they understand they are not able to set up camp until the grounds are officially opened for camping.
“It’s a balancing act. We are still doing maintenance and watering of the playing fields to ensure they survive the hot conditions.
“And the fact is, Riverside is not yet ready for campers – we planned to have the additional showers and toilets to be installed ready for the scheduled opening this Friday.”
Mr Harley said the council’s consideration of early arrivals may not continue into the future, with the rules for the temporary camping grounds to be reviewed after this year’s festival.
“There are many elements to be considered, including the maintenance of the playing fields and public safety during the set-up of the camping grounds,” he said.
“This year we will tolerate the early campers, as long as they are able to move on request.”
Based on last year’s figures, the council is expecting about 4500 to 5000 people to camp at the temporary grounds, with roughly 1500 individual camp sites.
“Clearly it is a very needed part of the festival in terms of accommodation,” Mr Harley said.
“The camping ground does have the ability to enlarge. We’ve got lots of playing fields there we can build in to, so there is an opportunity to grow another 20 per cent in that temporary camp ground.”
Mr Harley said managing the early campers was a difficult balance to get right.
“We want to encourage as many visitors to Tamworth as possible,” he said.
“We will make it as easy as possible for them to come here and, if that means we might have to ask them to move, we hope that they accept that in the best of everyone’s interest.”