NOT EVEN coronavirus looks like it will be able to stop the music as plans continue for Tamworth Country Music Festival 2021.
It might look different next year, but organiser Barry Harley is not prepared to let a $50 million injection into the local economy go without a fight.
"I think Australia and our area specifically has demonstrated that we can take all of the precautions and manage the spread of the virus," he said.
"It would be a significant loss if the festival was not run in any way, shape or form and I don't believe that will be the case.
"I am highly confident it will be on, if it didn't we would be looking at a $50 million loss with long-lasting effects for the country music industry, but we are thinking positively."
At this stage the festival is planned for January 15 to 24, and Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) will work closely with health authorities to implement appropriate social distancing measures and restrictions that might be in place at the time.
But, it's hoped the festival might be one of the first to go ahead unhampered by COVID-19, TRC mayor Col Murray said.
"After all, Tamworth is Australia's country music capital, and we are excited to welcome back both artists and fans and provide them with the best opportunity to reconnect after so long," he said.
Unlike other festivals, TCMF marks the start and end of a year in country music with the Golden Guitar Awards, that recognise the achievements of Australian country artists.
It's kick-started the careers of the likes of Lee Kernaghan, Keith Urban, Kasey Chambers and Gina Jeffreys.
The council and planning team hope to have a clear road map forward by June in regard to ticket releases and the use of indoor venues, in time for the next Country Connect meeting with stakeholders and the community. A date is still to be determined.
Mr Harley said the region could even benefit from a regional tourism boost with overseas holidays expected to be off the cards for some time.
"There are people that might have waited 20 years to go and perhaps this is the year," he said.
"What we're suffering is worldwide, it's not just our area so we have to accept what the rest of the world accepts.
"But, for this community to miss out on the economic injection would be a major setback, we can have some control over that and do everything in our power to hold onto the asset this provides to the community."