The iconic Tamworth Country Music Festival, which is soon to celebrate its 50th anniversary, has become another victim of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2021 event – which is officially known as the Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth – was cancelled by the regional council this week.
Councillors said they “could not in good conscience vote to proceed with the event”, which was due to take place in the famous NSW town from 15-24 January 2021.
Council is mindful of many restrictions
Members noted that they took the decision bearing in mind the current public health orders in place. These include the prohibition of music festivals and mass gatherings, coupled with travel restrictions and venue capacity challenges.
“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 [the 2021 festival].”
Safety of local community paramount
In making the final decision Tamworth Region Mayor, Col Murray said: “Tamworth Region councillors faced a difficult decision tonight, 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.
“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.”
A small consolation for Australian country music fans is that the annual presentation of the Country Music Awards of Australia, the Toyota Golden Guitar Awards, will still go ahead.
Country music awards still go ahead
The longest-standing music awards in the country will be delivered via an online stream on the night, while 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 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. 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.”