All country roads lead to Tamworth

Off the beaten track: James Cummins and son Jonah, 8, from the Central Coast have been a hit on the streets of Tamworth at this year’s country music festival.

​If there’s more fans and musicians from the Hunter Valley and the Central Coast at this week’s huge Tamworth Country Music Festival, then it’s a sweet result that has given organisers a big hearted boost.

As the long running festival kicks into its last big three days – and the pinnacle events like the Golden Guitar awards on Saturday night – organisers are upbeat about this year’s crowds and the overall program.

The 44th festival has seen one of the bigger early invasion of campers and visitors for years and venues have reported boom bookings and ticket sales across the landscape of the city.

While the festival has always attracted a demographic overload of grey nomads and traditional music fans who love bush poetry, ballads and have always seen Slim Dusty as the legendary leader of the music industry, there’s also been a big dose of younger talent this year.

Industry watchers reckon there’s been a fair few more younger people in the crowds – and on stages – for the 2016 show which traditionally doesn’t see the under 30s out partying until the business end of the festival.

They’re the ones who just come for the weekend – many of them from regional areas like the Hunter – in big utes, with tent in tow.

But according to festival organiser Barry Harley, a targeted advertising campaign just weeks out from the January event pushed the attraction of the festival to social media audiences in the Hunter and Central Coast areas.

It went hand-in-hand with a digital marketing strategy to entice the weekend tourist to town – and take advantage of a new Wake Up and Walk campsite with tiny tents for about $25 a night.

“The Hunter and Central Coast areas are country music heartlands for the Tamworth festival and this year we decided we would build on the traditional advertising there backed with some digital marketing to try to inspire some overnight trippers too,” Mr Harley said.

Organisers have reported few issues and while the locals argue each year about the trends, the traffic snarls, the sea of tents and campervans across green spaces point to another good year.

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