Gore’s Tussock Country Music Festival bought an estimated $2 million of financial benefit to the Eastern Southland region last year, its organisers say.

And while popular events such as the ute muster and the Country Music Honours night will remain in 2024, the decision has been made not to hold the Top Paddock concert event this year.

A report from the New Zealand Country Music Festival Trust, which was presented to the Gore District Council in December, says of the estimated 8700 attendees, 51% were from outside Gore, stayed an average of 3.62 nights and spent an average of $166 a day.

Trust members were at the council meeting to present a community grant liability form, outlining how a $50,000 grant it received from the council last year assisted the organisation and the wider community.

Trustee Jeff Rea told councillors that more than 70 events were scheduled for this year’s festival.

Marketing co-ordinator Annabelle Roy said this years’ event would include a show for pre-schoolers, and some of the artists visiting would perform in Gore’s rest homes.

A documentary had been made celebrating 50 years of the Gore Country Music Club and it would premiere at the St James Theatre during the festival, she said.

“It’s a wonderful celebration of some of the people who have worked so hard in this community for so long,’’ she said.

The council would continue to contribute to funding for the festival, but on a sliding scale.

Rea said the Covid-19 pandemic had been damaging, but the trust was planning in the long term to not need to request council funding.

“Whether we can pull that off or not, only time can tell, to be honest, there are so many variables out there in the environment right now,’’ he said.

Cr Bronwyn Reid congratulated the trust for giving people a reason to stay in Gore for longer, and on an initiative where residents could rent out rooms to fill an accommodation shortage.

Cr Robert McKenzie said the trust was ‘’putting Gore on the map for all the right reasons’’.

The Gore Country Music Club, NZ Songwriters Trust, NZ Gold Guitar Committee and the Gore District Council formed a New Zealand Country Music Festival Trust in July 2019 to grow what was traditionally the New Zealand Gold Guitars event at King’s Birthday Weekend into a bigger event.

This year’s festival guide will be released next month.

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