TAMWORTH'S mid-year country music festival won't be foiled by a global pandemic.
The country music showcase Hats Off To Country is well and truly on, but it will be a little different this year.
More than 40 country artists will take to the virtual stage to bring the festival to life in an online format from July 9 to July 12.
Event coordinator Cheryl Brown said Tamworth is the country music capital, and we need to remind people of that and keep leading the way.
"It's really quite amazing that we could have let it slide and said, 'Come back next year', but it's amazing the community kept saying, 'What's happening with Hats Off? What's happening?', and well, why not give people some music?" she told the Leader.
The four-day festival is set to star country artists from across a range of genres - from country rock to bush balladeers and fresh young talent to seasoned Golden Guitar Award winners.
A full program and line-up will be dropped at the end of June.
The music industry has been battered by the coronavirus shutdown, and Ms Brown said this event is Tamworth's chance to show off what the city has to offer and help "look after" the country music industry.
"We owe it to the artists and the venues and we want to highlight country music attractions, if we can tick some of those boxes, that's wonderful and it's the reason we are the country music capital," she said.
Although it's a free event, performers are being encouraged to post a donation link during the festival, so fans can directly donate to their virtual tip jar.
Despite the easing of some coronavirus restrictions, Ms Brown said an online festival was a safer bet as the threat of coronavirus lingers, and something different for Tamworth.
And there are other benefits of hosting a concert in an online world.
"We can reach out to so many more people this way," Ms Brown said.
"The festival won't be on physically but you can get excited for January, we'll be getting ready for that one straight afterwards."
Hats Off To Country is also celebrating its 21st birthday in 2020, a milestone Ms Brown couldn't let slip by.
Of all those years, this will be the first one run online.
As the festival unfolds and COVID-19 rules roll back further, the plans could alter to include and support as many people as possible, like buskers and live performers at venues.
Ms Brown said fans should stay tuned for the program announcement in the coming weeks.