Tamworth Country Music Festival postponed due to COVID-19 concerns

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Organisers of the Tamworth Country Music Festival have announced its 50th-anniversary event will be postponed due to changes made to COVID-19 safety measures today.

The 10-day event was set to start next week on January 14.

It’s the second year the festival has been impacted by COVID-19 after it was cancelled last year.

Wests Group CEO Rod Laing, who manages several of Tamworth’s largest venues, watched the announcement come through with disappointment. 

“I was in the club’s reception when some country-music-early-arriving fans walked through the door. They had to be told the news,” he said. 

“They were just camped along the water-side, and I’m sure there’ll be many more disappointed people. There are also some locals that may be relieved.

People dance to the Wolfe Brothers at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
People dance to the Wolfe Brothers during the bushfire appeal concert at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in 2013.(AAP: Tracey Nearmy)

Mr Laing said coming off last year, he had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars that he would never be able to recoup. 

“It’s food, it’s marketing, everything’s gone, it’s shot,” he said.

“It’s been a rollercoaster.

“You could say [the writing on the wall] was there yesterday, you could have said it was last year. You feel like there’s no help, but we’ve always kept optimistic.”

The festival’s manager, Barry Harley, said it was a hard decision to make.

Postponed until April

The NSW government today announced some restrictions would be reintroduced to slow the spread of COVID-19 across the state.

These restrictions include new risk assessments by NSW Health on major events and a ban on singing and dancing at entertainment and hospitality venues.

However, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said large events could go ahead provided NSW did not deem the events high risk.

NSW recorded 38,625 COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths in the latest reporting period.

Two men with guitars on stage.
Troy Cassar-Daley and Adam Harvey perform at the 42nd Tamworth Country Music Festival.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Organisers said due to “so much uncertainty” the decision had to be made to reschedule the festival to April.

The event will also take place over a shorter period from April 18.

“Given the current state of COVID transmission in our communities and the impact the changed COVID safety measures have on our venues,” Mr Harley said.

‘Significant impact’ to community

Tamworth Regional Mayor Russell Webb said the April date had been chosen to accommodate several groups.

“Pubs have had to buy perishable goods, and most will last until April,” he said. 

“It’s also school holidays, which will alleviate bus services.”

The mayor said there would be a “significant” financial cost associated with postponing the festival.

“I don’t think there’s one person in this organisation that’s happy about it,” Mr Webb said.

Man standing infront of press cameras
Tamworth Regional Mayor Russell Webb addressing the media.(ABC New England: Kemii Maguire)

At a press conference in Tamworth on Friday, Mr Webb addressed the lateness of its announcement.

“We’re a week out, we’re only a week away from the festival opening, we find out today that we would have to get those plans approved by [NSW] Health,” he said.

“They would happen sometime next week. They would lay down a set of conditions and guidelines that we would have to follow. There would be not enough time if those guidelines are strict for us to comply.”



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