THE MAN who has been at the head of one of Tamworth's most presitgious entertainment venues since its opening more than a decade ago is venturing off to new pastures.
Mike Rowland remembers the day AELEC opened to the public back in 2008, because that's when it hit home that he would be in charge of a facility that was really special to the community.
He said a crowd of about 2000 people was expected to come and check out the latest and greatest new thing in town when it opened for people to have a look around one afternoon, but just shy of 10,000 locals came through the doors.
"What I learned that day is our community took significant pride in what had been produced," he told the Leader.
"That created in me a significant sense of responsibility that I had this opportunity not to muck up something that was really important to the community.
"It was pleasing, but also humbling."
Mr Rowland will still be in the thick of the AELEC action when his replacement eventually gets boots on the ground, because he's planning on going back to running his own livestock events business.
"I am a very proud Tamworthian and I have every intention of remaining in this area," he said.
"I had my own business that was in and around the equine events area ... when AELEC kicked off and council contracted me to come on board and help get things going, and I am still here now."
As much as Mr Rowland looks back with fond memories, it hasn't all been a walk in the paddock.
Mr Rowland was at the helm of the livestock events centre just a year after equine influenza ripped through the eastern states; he was in charge when drought devastated properties and farmers; and most recently he helped the venue get through the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Change never hurts and I think to have the opportunity for someone new to lead and guide the place will only be a good thing," he said.
Mr Rowland said he hoped - and expected - the venue would only grow and bring even more to the community into the future.
Tamworth Regional Council is advertising to fill the position for AELEC manager.
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