A whole year had passed since we were last in Tamworth but it hadn't changed much. During the week leading up to the Festival there was plenty to do and see and once it began we were swamped with choices - there were concerts everywhere, mostly free. Additionally, the town centre was closed to traffic and there were buskers every few metres. Some had loud sound systems but others had not and were drowned out by their noisy neighbours. Many buskers were really excellent and we had no trouble locating the best - they were the ones with the largest crowds surrounding them. The weather was very hot all week so we were glad to retire to the cool of Gloria Jeans for an iced coffee from time to time, and the caravan air conditioner was a life saver.
It's hard to give you an accurate feel for this Festival, dear Reader, because it's all about sound, so instead I'll try and capture the atmosphere in pictures.
By the third day of the Festival most of the people were wearing cowboy hats. We were no exception . . .
So there I was, leaning on a lamp-post waiting for Pam to emerge from a shop, when a gust of wind blew dust into my eyes. I had to rub the dust out and when I re-opened my eyes, blinking, there was an attractive lady standing right in front of me.
"I'm here", she said, smiling brightly.
I blinked some more, feeling I should know her.
"Sorry?" I responded, playing for time.
"I'm here", she said again, still smiling at me.
Well, I could clearly see that she was there, but who the hell was she? My confusion must have shown in my face because she laughed and said, refering to my T-shirt (pictured above).
"You're waiting for the perfect woman. Well, I'm here."
And very nice she was too. We chatted for a while until Pam returned with an 'I might have known' expression on her face.
Our good friends, recently married Greg and Bev from Sydney, came over and met up with us in Tamworth. It was great to see them again.
While wandering the streets we were accosted by a tall young lady who was giving away tickets to an 'erotic dance show' in one of the hotels. She approached us as I was about to photograph Pam and Bev and, being full of fun, she insisted on posing between them.
Last year we'd developed a soft spot for a young singer called Kirsty Lee Akers. Kirsty was in Tamworth again this year and she seemed to have gained a lot more confidence. She succeeded in winning the prestigious Toyota Starmaker competition which earned her:
Many big names in country music were given a big leg-up by winning the Starmaker competition, so well done, Kirsty. We went to watch her at the Diggers Club where she was performing all week. The picture below was taken from the back of the audience with a 200 mm lens as she sang on stage.
It struck us that there were many more youngsters performing than last year so I'll include them in the pictures. If some were not as good as others, they were certainly all having fun.
The man in the pictures below stood as still as a statue with his wheelbarrow. He didn't speak, even to respond to questions. When somebody dropped a silver or gold coin into his barrow he took one step forward and froze again. His aim was to walk from one end of Peel Street to the other in that manner. Pam dropped a coin down the pipe into his barrow and his arm came slowly up and one finger beckoned to her to come closer. Then he grabbed her and kissed her.
The Festival was timed to include the Australia Day long weekend and that drew in the crowds like nothing else, with the Australian flag much in evidence. We attended a free concert sponsored by Coca Cola where we finally met Michelle Little, a singer we had thought by far the best in the Young Guns Concert. We had been trying to track her down ever since. We had seen many perform already when Michelle took the stage. She brought the house down with her rendition of We Are Australian. There wasn't a dry eye in the place and one couple went out to the front and waved an Australian flag as she sang.
The parade was a great success and I was there on your behalf, my faithful Reader, taking photographs of every float that passed us until my camera glowed red hot. When I down-loaded the photographs, however, it struck my how boring they would be to you, so I decided to spare you. In fact, I'll spare you any further details of the festival with one little exception. At one concert at the Diggers Club we bumped into this lady who will be immediately recognisable to Aussies, though probably not to anyone else:
Footnote: This re-working of Page 37 was completed on 24 April 2013. It conforms to HTML5 and CSS level 3.