A RECORD 1.7 million tourists visited the New England during the year.
In Tamworth, at least 30 campers had rolled into the riverside campground by Monday and, by Wednesday afternoon, 50 vehicles were parked ready for camping to open.
Tamworth Regional Council opened the campgrounds a day early, but mayor Col Murray said consideration will need to be given to the sporting clubs who use the fields.
“We see this influx earlier and earlier every year and it’s one of the things we’ll be discussing – how we manage that,” he said.
“We’ve got major cricket carnivals going on – these are sporting grounds, they aren’t camping grounds.
“However, we certainly recognise the importance of the festival and the campers that come here bringing their character and atmosphere.”
The council has installed 24 portable showers and 90 portable toilets, with 1500 sites expected to be occupied this year.
The site is run by volunteers from a number of local sporting clubs, which share in the spoils paid by campers.
Even schools have opened their doors to visitors: Oxley High School and St Nicholas Primary welcome camping, while Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School and Calrossy Anglican School raise funds for the year by hiring out their dormitories.
Tamworth PCYC hosts a number of short stays inside for people looking for cheap accommodation where they can escape the heat with airconditioning.
The number of pre-bookings at riverside campgrounds has grown by 76 since last year; that option was introduced in 2017.
The festival itself brings more than 300,000 visitors to Tamworth over the 10-day period, starting January 18 this year.