Hundreds turn out to enjoy Ballina Country Music Festival
IT MAY not rival Tamworth in January but that didn't stop hundreds of tourists and curious locals catching the 32 free acts of the Ballina Coastal Country Music Festival.
River St between Cherry St and Moon St was closed off to traffic on Saturday for the third annual festival, which also featured performances throughout the weekend at seven licensed venues and at Fawcett Park yesterday. The street closure allowed market stalls to operate as well as entertainment on two stages.
It made for a relaxed, casual atmosphere as long weekend shoppers dodged the hay bales to mingle with the various buskers and country music fans of all ages.
Retailers did a thriving trade and judging by the number of "No vacancy" signs up at motels, many travelled to Ballina for the occasion.
Organiser Carol Stacey said accommodation had been booked out.
"Numbers are well up.
"It's far exceeded our expectations.
"Many patrons have returned after last year and there are also a lot of people here for the first time.
"The buzz in the street is just amazing."
Of the headline acts, big crowds paid to watch Shane Nicholson at the Ballina RSL Club on Friday night and The Wolverines outdoors on the back green at the Cherry Street Sports Club on Saturday night.
Mrs Stacey said organisers would need to have a "big think tank" after the festival this year.
"We may have to look at growing into an outdoor venue," she said.
"Moving to a football field or something similar might be an option."
But she said the street closure on the Saturday would probably remain.
"The festival has huge potential to grow and deliver even greater economic benefits for Ballina," she said.