THE sounds and bustling crowds of the Tamworth Country Music Festival (TCMF) are hard to miss come January, but in the era of COVID-19, the usual chaos turned to calm.
Festival director Barry Harley said it was "weird" to see the dates set down for TCMF 2021 come and go without the usual fanfare.
"For me personally, it was a sad realisation that the thing hundreds of us have worked so hard to preserve for the past 49 years did not occur," he told the Leader.
"More than ever it showed how important the festival is and how much work we will be putting in to make the 50th anniversary spectacular."
"It was a time to highlight how grateful we should be that this beast we call the festival normally injects such a powerful amount of money ... for the Tamworth economy," Mr Harley said.
He said it was positive to see some venues fill their stages with about 80 different live music performances during what would have been the festival.
"The venues ought to be congratulated for getting behind the principle of Tamworth being country music in January and the principle of live entertainment in that period," Mr Harley said.
More than ever it showed how important the festival is ...Barry Harley, festival director
Tamworth's Moonshiners Honky Tonk Bar hosted ten shows across five days.
Manager Michael Maizey said the COVID-safe shows were a hit among fans.
"Most of the concerts were a sell-out to COVID capacity, and other than that every concert was good," he said.
"It was important for us to do that, to still give music to the locals who have really supported it over previous years."
Council is gearing up for a huge 50th anniversary festival, which is 50 weeks away.
"As time goes on, more will be revealed about what we'll be doing to make it a worthwhile celebration ... but more importantly, that the community will benefit," Mr Harley said.