TAMWORTH Country Music Festival organisers are pleased with the impact fewer stalls on Peel Street have had on this year's event.
The decision to limit the number of traders on Tamworth's busiest street was for the benefit of visitors, buskers and local businesses, organiser Barry Harley said.
The change sparked some concern from festival lovers, but Mr Harley said it was formed out of a trial in 2019.
"We reduced some of the trader numbers down Peel Street to increase the amount of manoeuvrability and the comfort of visitors," Mr Harley told the Leader.
"Last year, we trialled having the traders in the centre of the street ... to give visitors and buskers more comfort under the shade of the awnings.
"From that, we decided it was probably a bit tight and so we deliberately opened that up a bit, which meant we actually reduced the number of traders this year."
Mr Harley said local businesses had also been considered.
"The other factor that came into our thinking was carefully choosing traders so that we don't unfairly take away from local businesses," he said.
"What we looked for in most cases was artisan traders and stuff that may not be available in Tamworth at the time."
The decision has not been well received in some circles; former stallholder Jazrt took to social media to explain his absence from the event.
The artist - who creates works live on the street - said he'd been attending for almost 30 years and criticised the cost and scarcity of stalls.
"The reason people went there was for the atmosphere in the streets. If there's no atmosphere in the street, why go?"
Mr Harley hosed down the claims, saying the fees still gave stallholders value for money.
"There is a concession for local traders looking to take advantage of the influx of visitors," he said.
"The fee for outside traders is a little bit more, but ... it's probably one of the cheapest events they can attend because, for instance, an artisan would pay something like $60 a day to be on the main street and have access to tens of thousands of people.
"That's a fairly low rate, but we do that to still give an advantage to a ratepayer that has been here all year."
Mr Harley said "stories on social media" had led to some misconceptions about the council's fees.
"I know there were some stories floating around stating that we were charging buskers," he said.
"However, the reality is: we have never charged buskers, never will charge buskers and buskers do not get charged.
"Overall, we are pleased with how this year's festival went and will look at all options to help improve next year's event."