PHOTOS: Thousands mosey to Ballina for country riffs
CAROL Stacey felt very proud on Saturday morning as country riffs filled the air around Cherry St, Ballina.
Mrs Stacey, from Ballina, founded the Ballina Country Music Festival, inspired by the success of Tamworth and other country music events, and was enjoying the sixth festival, which has in the past had its ups and downs.
But on Saturday, thousands of people mustered themselves into the street for the festival, which included market stalls, kids' rides and, of course, the music.
The night before, about 300 attended the Festival Benefit Concert at the Cherry Street Sports Club, and another 300 filed in for the Showcase event at the club on Saturday night.
They were the only ticketed events for the three-day event, which featured music on six stages.
Two stages were in the club, one in the street on Saturday morning and there were gigs at the Hotel Henry Rous, Shaws Bay Hotel and Westower Tavern.
While award-winning artists Travis Collins and Felicity Urquhart were the headlining acts, Brothers 3 proved popular at the Benefit concert and in their street performance.
The trio, who shot to fame as finalists on the television program X Factor a few years ago have acted as ambassadors for the Ballina festival.
They told the gathering on Friday night they enjoyed coming to Ballina, and were disappointed not to have been here in 2016 because they were on tour.
Ballina Country Music Festival organiser, Garry Lavercombe, said the boys, who first appeared in Ballina as teenagers, had "grown up” with the festival.
He was "really pleased” with the number of people who turned up to the three-day event.
Many of the tickets sold online to the two major shows were bought by people from outside the region.
Pat and Gail Cooper, from Telegraph Point on the NSW Mid North Coast, were among them.
They were happy to mosey up the highway with their caravan to stay for an extended weekend to enjoy the music on offer.
It was their first time at the festival and they went to the Benefit Concert, the Showcase Concert and spent time at the festival throughout the day.
"We're loving it,” Mr Cooper said.
Mr Lavercombe said a major attraction of the concert was the variety of music on offer, from very traditional country music, through to the contemporary sounds of regulars on the North Coast circuit Round Mountain Girls and the bluegrass stylings of The Mid North.
Ballina's mayor, Cr David Wright, was keen to see Brothers 3.
His daughter was a champion linedancer, so Cr Wright said he had a real soft spot for country music.
"The songs are all about people, and you can understand the words,” he quipped.
He also discovered on Saturday morning he was related to one of the performers, Thor Phillips.