OK, it’s on again for 2019. There’s thousands of visitors to come and hundreds of performers to strut their stuff – and they’ll all welcome the countdown to the biggest country music hoedown you can get in Australia.
Welcome to Tamworth in January.
Four of the past six years of the TCMF have been years when Australia Day basically made the last weekend a long weekend. They’ve traditionally been the years when we’ve had a spike in attendance and, if you accept that anecdotal evidence, then you’d have to think 2019 should echo that trend.
Australia Day falls on the Saturday of the golden weekend and we’ll all get that holiday day off on the following Monday.
But even those who can remember those old stats also accept the TCMF has been cyclical. There have been big years and smaller years, and the odds might be that this year won’t be as big because of a number of factors.
Chief among those is the drought; the insidious Big Dry that has reached into every facet of regional life – in the places our festival visitors come from, and the place they’re coming to.
The sapping emotional and physical cost, and the accompanying extended long periods of heatwave conditions, coupled with the depressed and agonising economic downturns it has produced, will almost undoubtedly play into crowd numbers.
But however it plays out, and despite any doom-and-gloom merchants, the magic of the music event endures. Big doesn’t really matter in the long run as against better. And there have been been a few years when the festival quality has set new benchmarks: witness the big 2007 one and, again setting a new trend, the 40th anniversary in 2012.
Like many things, change has been the conduit for attracting new and different audiences, younger visitors, but it’s still the safe and secure festival that old-timers and veterans of the visit like and love. Festival virgins are always blown away by the sheer scope of the event – you don’t know a Tamworth festival in January until you’ve done the deed.
But whoever you are, enjoy it all. We enjoy you.