FOR about 300 lucky locals, the country music festival got off to an unofficial flying start in Kootingal.
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service held its annual balladeers fundraising concert at the Kooty bowling club on Sunday as a bit of a warm-up ahead of the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
It was the 15th edition of the charity hoedown, but there was no shortage of support for the city’s much-loved rescue chopper.
The club was packed to the rafters with buses bringing folks in from a number of retirement villages and festival campsites.
Graeme ‘Dubby’ Doubleday, who co-hosted the event with Brian ‘Howdy’ Howard, said there had always been great showing at the concert during the last 15 years.
Mr Doubleday has been hosting the event since its inception.
“I live and work in the bush and I don’t know whet we would do without it,” he said.
“It saves so many lives.
“People in Tamworth really get behind it because they use it or hope they never have to use it.
There were performances by Rex Dallas, Tommy Maxwell, Dale Duncan, Lyn Guest, Patti Morgan, The Dally Croft backing band and Pixie Jenkins.
All of the performers donated their time, including bush poet Gary Fogarty who drove from the Darling Downs region just for the event.
The event is largely run by the men and women in red.
The service volunteers were running the barbecues and manning the donations throughout helping bring out very last cent for the chopper.