A BUNDABERG Rum flag flaps softly in the wind.
The boom gates opened early for Tamworth Country Music Festival's riverside campers, and they marked their territory with all the national pride of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Veterans arrived days before the festival to secure their usual spots, beating even the loos to the riverside campgrounds.
Numbers are expected to be down this year but, for those who make the trip, early entry should make the experience more comfortable, Tamworth Country Music Festival organiser Barry Harley said.
"Rather than having them hang around on the road, it means they can be settled before the onslaught," he said.
"It's a pleasant surprise - a lot of these arrivals have been coming for 15 or 20 years and they want their usual spot back.
"We know there have been people arriving in town from Christmas and New Year's - they want to be part of the festival and are prepared to sacrifice days on the road to get their spot."
This year, campers arrived even before the showers and toilets did.
It was good news for the sports clubs, which are paid by Tamworth Regional Council to manage the campers during their stay.
The clubs have earned up to $60,000 depending on the number of guests they have to look after in the 10-day festival.
The campgrounds can cater for 1500 sites and, in the past, the area has had to be extended to accommodate swells in numbers.
Each of the campers receives a package upon entry that details water restrictions in Tamworth.
They won't be permitted to use blow-up pools and have been asked to take shorter showers.
The campgrounds opened on Thursday.