Coun­try fes­ti­val wins top award

Stratford Press - - News - By ALICE COWDREY

A coun­try mu­sic fes­ti­val cre­ated from scratch by a Waitara cou­ple was named as the re­gion’s top event dur­ing the TSB Cham­ber of Com­merce Busi­ness Ex­cel­lence Awards.

The Taranaki Coun­try Mu­sic Fes­ti­val won the Events and At­trac­tions Ex­cel­lence Award dur­ing the evening, which came as a bit of a sur­prise says Jo­ce­lyn Tuahine, who founded the fes­ti­val along with her hus­band Ge­orge.

The avid coun­try mu­sic fans held the first fes­ti­val last year, which at­tracted hun­dreds of peo­ple from all over New Zealand. The fes­ti­val will now be held an­nu­ally.

Jo­ce­lyn says the judges were im­pressed with the fes­ti­val’s grass­roots ori­gins.

“I think it was be­cause we started it from scratch with noth­ing and we suc­ceeded. They were re­ally im­pressed with the peo­ple we brought into the re­gion.”

Jo­ce­lyn says Ge­orge couldn’t make the awards night as he was out play­ing a gig, but he cried when he heard the news.

“There is a lot of en­joy­ment in bring­ing top artists to the re­gion as well as the op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote coun­try mu­sic.”

Last year award win­ning yo­deller Aus­tralian Laura Dowd­ing head­lined the fes­ti­val and this year it will be well-known Kiwi coun­try mu­si­cian Suzanne Pren­tice.

Jo­ce­lyn says when the head­line act was an­nounced, more than 100 tick­ets flew out the door.

“Peo­ple are re­ally look­ing for­ward to see­ing her per­form.”

Pro­mo­tional con­certs are held dur­ing the year to build up the pro­file of the fes­ti­val and raise money to pay for the artists and the team be­hind the event have worked hard all year round to or­gan­ise the sum­mer event. The team has some Strat­ford tal­ent, in­clud­ing Jo Jones who is the chord chart co­or­di­na­tor as well as stage man­ager Lind­say Berquist. Lep­per­ton’s Brenda Ge­orge is on the or­gan­is­ing team as well as Char Mar­tin, Carol Digby and Joe Mar­tin.

■ Taranaki Coun­try Mu­sic Fes­ti­val’s next con­cert is at the New Ply­mouth Club on Novem­ber 17 from 7pm, and tick­ets cost $15.

The Taranaki County Mu­sic Fes­ti­val is be­ing held from Fe­bru­ary 15-17 at the Waitara Memo­rial Hall next year. For more in­for­ma­tion go to taranakifes­ti­

Taranaki Coun­try Mu­sic Fes­ti­val co-founder Jo­ce­lyn Tuahine is pic­tured with Char Mar­tin and Carol Digby.

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