Music festival ‘significant success’

Catching up. . . New Zealand Country Music Festival Trust chairman Jeff Rea and treasurer Phillip Geary chat after the trust’s annual meeting last week. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

‘‘We always said it was going to be a marathon and not a sprint,’’ Jeff Rea says.

The New Zealand Country Music Festival Trust chairman made the remark after presenting his report at the trust’s annual meeting last week.

In the report, Mr Rea said the second Tussock Country Music Festival went ahead with Bayley’s as the naming sponsor.

‘‘This year the festival ran over 10 days with 60-plus events and while some attendance numbers were down, the overall festival was a significant success and built well on our first festival in 2021.’’

The festival ‘‘went up a step from 2021, partly because of the increase in events, but also from lessons learned’’.

In terms of the events, Top Paddock went off very well but patronage was well down.

The GWD Ute Muster was well attended and the Southern Field Days site was an ideal place for the event.

‘‘Our new performance event for this year was Tussock Stage, which was set up in the Little Theatre.

‘‘Lachie Hayes and Zak Griffith performed, as did Matt Joe Gow and Kerryn Fields.

‘‘The venue is a great listening room and both shows were well supported and enjoyed by artists and audience alike,’’ Mr Rea said.

In planning meetings last year, board members put several ideas into motion as part of a plan to promote the festival throughout the year.

One idea included a Tussock Country performance at the Gore District Community Awards.

‘‘We also mooted a ‘road to tussock’ plan where Matt Joe Gow flew the tussock flag throughout his New Zealand tour, culminating in a performance at the Tussock Country Stage at the Little Theatre during the festival.

‘‘Both these additions kept the festival in front of the public, both locally and nationwide.’’

One of the constraintsfor the future was accommodating the number of visitors who came to Gore for the festival.

‘‘Annabel Roy, our marketing co-ordinator, initiated a room rental scheme for those who could not find accommodation.’’

Once again, the festival had been a significant boost to the region’s economy, Mr Rea said.

‘‘Considerable work has been done around economic impact and the region has benefitted by approximately $2 million dollars from the 2023 festival.

‘‘Running a festival like this relies on the generosity of many groups and organisations.’’

Mr Rea will chair the board again this year and Roger Bowie and Jenny Mitchell will share the role of vice-chair.

Phillip Geary returns as treasurer and Pam Hislip has taken on the secretary’s role.

As he closed the meeting, Mr Rea said the state of the economy meant the board would face another challenging year but he was optimistic for the future of the festival.

‘‘I still think there’s an excitement around ‘if you build it they will come’.’’