|Tamworth Country Music Festival|
The Tamworth Country Music Festival
|Genre||Country music, Bluegrass, Rock, Western swing, World music, Folk|
|Dates||Friday 19 January to Sunday 28 January 2018 |
|Location(s)||Tamworth, Manilla, Kootingal|
|Years active||1972 - Current|
The Tamworth Country Music Festival is an annual music festival in January held in Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia and is a celebration of Country Music culture and heritage in particular the national Australian country music scene, with numerous concerts and live performances at various venues. The festival lasts for two weeks over Australia Day and during this period the city of Tamworth comes alive, with visitors from all across the country and worldwide who come to join in the festivities. The festival has many times been counted among the world's top ten music festivals. In 2007 Forbes rated it as number 8 of the World's Coolest Music Festivals. The enormous number of visitors during the bash doubles the city's population and brings significant tourism and economic benefits to the region. Visitor numbers for the 2012 festival were estimated at 50,000.
The mass number of visitors means that accommodation throughout the area is consistently booked out for this period up to 12 months in advance, with many visitors camping in caravans, camper vans and tents by the city's riverside and numerous other temporary camping sites throughout the region. The festival is the second biggest country music festival in the world, after Nashville.
A significant amount of media coverage is given locally and national, in the printed media and also with the three big commercial networks the Nine Network, Channel 7 and Ten Network having broadcast news and segments from the festival. There is also national radio coverage from stations including ABC Radio Australia and KIX Country as well as notable radio programs such as Planet Country with Big Stu & MJ.
When the Tamworth Country Music Festival commenced is often debated. In 1968 the then Tamworth branch of the Modern Country Music Association, now the Capital Country Music Association (CCMA), began a talent quest on the Australia Day January Long weekend. The talent quest, now known as the CCMA National Talent Quest, is considered a major influence in what was to become the Festival in January 1973 with the first staging, by local radio station 2TM, of the Australasian Country Music Awards (aka the Golden Guitar Awards for its unique "golden guitar" trophy) as part of its Country Music Capital promotion which had commenced in 1969.
The festival expanded to many other activities, with events running back throughout the week before the Awards and National Talent Quest staged on what was then the Australia Day long weekend. These events included Bluegrass Championships, Hands of Fame inductions, the Roll of Renown, rodeo events, Coca-Cola Concerts, Toyota Star Maker Quest, Tamworth Songwriters' Association Awards, busking in Peel Street, the Cavalcade and industry seminars among other events. These events were promoted to highlight Australian Country Music and to draw attention to the climax of the 10 days, the Golden Guitar Awards.
Radio 2TM ran the Awards until 1993 when they were passed on to the newly formed national industry organisation, the Country Music Association of Australia. The staging of the Golden Guitar Awards moved from Sunday to the Saturday night in the last full weekend in January as the Australia day public holiday was moved to float with the 26 January date.
Since the festival's original commencement the following music genres have been performed: Classic country, Bluegrass, Country rock, Folk, Urban country, Alternative country, Rockabilly, Western swing, Country rock'n'roll, Yodelling, Rock, Blues and World music. The festival has diversified in styles of country as the genre country music itself has broadened, additionally other styles of music are played at the festival.
The CMAA's awards night ceremony is called the Country Music Awards of Australia in which winning artists are presented with Golden Guitar Award trophies that are miniature replicas of the Golden Guitar statue. These awards are highly coveted in the Australian country music industry. The presentation of awards is regarded as the pinnacle event of the Tamworth Country Music Festival
The Australian Country Music Peoples Choice Awards is an entirely van voted awards program run by the Country Music Bulletin. Fans can nominate any artist or radio presenter and program for a wide range of awards. After the voting period ends, nominees in the top percentile of votes are announced as finalists. The winners are revealed in an awards ceremony taking place during the festival. Planet Country with Big Stu & MJ won the radio award for most popular country music station or program in 2017.
During the music festival the main shopping street (Peel Street) is restricted to pedestrians only. In this area, Buskers are required to register with the local council. There is also a competition between these registered buskers to find the festival's best busker. There has been complaint and controversy about the use of very loud PA systems against acoustic performances. Council officers are known to walk the street with decibel meters during performances. Since January is a summer month with daytime temperatures regularly hovering around 38 °C, it is during the nighttime that the city really comes to life, with people heading down town to drink, dance and generally party while numerous bands play up and down the main street. Country Music Parade 
The Festival countdown is the 'pre-festival' festival. During this week before the festival many country music fans come to Tamworth to set up camp and enjoy the town, while there are also dozens of concerts scheduled during this week.
Besides the music the festival has many other attractions for visitors these include the Big Golden Guitar, the country music wax museum and the hands of fame park of successful country music artists. Additionally fine artists, crafts, street performers and markets attract large crowds in Peel St.
The Country Music Cavalcade on the last Saturday of the festival attracts large crowds to Peel St, with many businesses and musicians participating with floats in the parade.
During the buildup prior to the commencement of celebrations, the Tamworth Regional Council takes steps to beautify and secure the city, performing such works as:
The Tamworth Country Music Festival each year attracts many country music, bluegrass, rock and folk musicians to the city. Performers perform at various venues in the city. The festival attracts over 800 different artists which perform over 5000 shows. Artists who perform regularly at the festival include Kasey Chambers, Troy Cassar-Daley, Lee Kernaghan, John Williamson and Colin Buchanan., other's include Melinda Schneider and Beccy Cole. The late Slim Dusty was also a regular. The festival is noted for being the launching platform of Keith Urban and Kasey Chambers' careers. The Australian country icon Smoky Dawson was also a regular, and has a grill called "Smoky's Grill", named in his honour Many hundreds of musicians played at the 2012 festival at clubs, pubs and in Peel St, busking. Some of the better known artists that performed at the 2012 festival or have performed in the past include: