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Tamworth Country Music Festival crowd bucks predictions

Despite drought and bushfires, the organisers of the Tamworth Country Music Festival say the weekend crowds were better than expected.

On the first day of the 10-day event, music festival manager Barry Harley said the crowds were “rolling in”.

“There certainly won’t be some of the numbers that have been forecast previously – a 10 to 15 per cent impact won’t be unexpected,” he told The Northern Daily Leader.

“Realistically, we’ve factored in the drought. A lot of the fans come from the very region’s affected by the drought, and now, those most affected by the fires.

“If you look at the glass-half-full side of things, being 10 per cent down is still 90 per cent up if the festival wasn’t on.”

The campsite can accommodate up to 1500, with Harley confident this year will see around 1300, the same as last year.

The year marks the debut of the Festival Fringe, which will expand the night entertainment in Fitzroy Plaza well into the night. But otherwise the festival “will remain true to its roots”, according to Tamworth Mayor Col Murray.

“It is more important than ever during difficult economic times to support local business and this is one of the reasons we created the new Festival Friendly Business Program,” Murray told The Northern Daily Leader.

“The Festival is estimated to be worth more than $127 million to the local economy each year and we all play a part in its success and continued growth.”