The 48th Annual Toyota Country Music Festival is here once again and it's great to see the thousands of people arriving to enjoy it alongside us locals.
It has been a challenging 12 months in many respects due to the ongoing drought and our community is showing its resilience as it gears up for our world-class festival.
Not only do we have the biggest country music stars, the biggest line-up of artists, the biggest country music talent and the biggest country music awards show in Australia, our festival is also a big economic driver for our community.
It is more important than ever during difficult economic times to support local business and this is one of the reasons we created the new Festival Friendly Business Program. The Festival is estimated to be worth more than $127 million to the local economy each year and we all play a part in its success and continued growth.
The program aims to help promote an enthusiastic festival friendly atmosphere and to encourage visitors to shop locally by offering great deals during the 10-day festival.
Take a look at the list of businesses which have willingly embraced the program at https://www.tcmf.com.au/festivalfriendly
Our 2020 festival will remain true to its roots, offering something for everyone with a mix of all types of country music.
Again, a feature will be the many opportunities to enjoy performances from top artists at free events. The Festival Family Zone will be in full swing with carnival rides, sideshow alley and plenty of activities for kids.
For the first time, we have the Festival Fringe which will expand the night entertainment with fun and colourful performers in Fitzroy Plaza well into the night.
There are scheduled shows from early evening until 10pm featuring performers including a unicyclist, a contortionist, jugglers, fire performers and more.
See more about the acts and times for shows at https://www.tcmf.com.au/festival-fringe
Among my duties during the festival, I'll be on the greens of South Tamworth Bowling Club on Thursday this week at 9am for fun, laughs and bowls with country music artists.
The club does a great job of making everyone welcome while we do our bit to raise money for a good cause.
Of course, the drought continues to be front of mind for us all. We will be working hard to ensure all festival visitors are aware of our current water situation and know exactly how they can conserve water during their stay.
In addition to signage at the council-run campgrounds and their amenities blocks, there will also be daily pop-up stands; 10,000 coffee cups turned into "walking billboards"; messaging on the big screens in Toyota Park and Peel Street; shower hangers and timers in motels and hotels; and increased ranger patrols to ensure that no one in our region is misusing water during this time.