For the first time in nearly half a century the Tamworth Country Music Festival has been cancelled, with organisers losing a battle against COVID-19 restrictions.
NSW's Tamworth Regional Council overnight voted against proceeding with the January 2021 event amid travel restrictions and bans on mass gatherings.
Without the council-operated events which include street stages, busking and the famous cavalcade, festival management decided not to proceed.
"We have remained as optimistic as we could and continued with our planning in the hope that conditions would ease," festival manager Barry Harley said.
"Unfortunately, like so many others in our situation, we have had to surrender to the challenges COVID has placed on us and make the difficult decision to suspend."
January would have been the 49th continual annual festival since the event began in 1973 with just a handful of performances.
In recent years the festival has spanned 10 days and included more than 700 artists including regulars Lee Kernaghan and Melinda Schneider.
Despite the festival's suspension, the Golden Guitar Awards will continue in 2021, with plans for it to be held virtually.
"That will include some live components, plus pre-recorded content, but it won't be of the magnitude of the usual awards," Harley said.
Australian Associated Press