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Friday, December 1, 2023

Country hearts break over festival axing

Coronavirus has silenced Australia’s largest country music festival, with Tamworth councillors last night voting to suspend all council-run events for the 2021 Toyota Country Music Festival. 

With the current public health orders in place, which include the prohibition of music festivals and mass gatherings, coupled with travel restrictions and venue capacity challenges, Councillors said they could not proceed with the January 2021 event.

“Today is a sad day, not only for Tamworth, but for the artists, and the country music industry,” said Festival Manager, Barry Harley.

“We have remained as optimistic as we could and continued with our planning in the hope that conditions would ease.

“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 TCMF2021.”

In making the final decision, Tamworth Region Mayor, Col Murray said the council had faced a difficult task at last night’s meeting.

“One that had the health and safety of our community, our fans, the artists, volunteers, local businesses, staff, and the wider country music industry front of mind,” said Mr Murray.

“It is hard to believe that we have had to make this decision, and it most certainly has not been an easy decision to make.

“Still, the impacts of introducing COVID-19 to our community far outweigh the impacts cancelling the Festival would have on our community.” 

He said that while the 10-day Festival will not proceed in 2021, the annual presentation of the Country Music Awards of Australia, the Toyota Golden Guitar Awards, would still go ahead.

“The Awards that are the longest standing music awards in the country, will be delivered via an online stream on the night, and the ABC will continue to be the broadcast partner for the Awards.”

“It is important that we continue to recognise country music talent at the 49th Toyota Golden Guitar Awards, despite not being able to hold a live event,” said Mr Harley. 

“Artists have faced an extremely challenging year, but many have continued to work hard and release new music, under the most difficult of circumstances, and we want to pay tribute to them by hosting a remarkable event, that is streamed far and wide so that everyone can experience the best of Australian country music.

He said the festival – that attracts around 300,000 music lovers each year – would be back to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022.  

“We appreciate all the support shown to us to date, and we encourage everyone to support your favourite country music artists in any way, in the coming months, as we look forward to a bigger and better Festival in 2022,” said Mr Harley.  

To keep up to date with plans for the 2021 Toyota Golden Guitar Awards and the 2022 Toyota Country Music 50th Anniversary event, visit www.tcmf.com.au.

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