By Rebecca Belt
THE first weekend of the Tamworth Country Music Festival will have an international flavour with Eric Lee Beddingfield headlining CowboyUp.
The rodeo, ute and musical event is an initiative of the Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association (ABCRA) and is new to the festival next year. It will raise vital funds for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.
ABCRA executive officer Hunter Jones said sometimes competitors in events had to be airlifted by the rescue service and this was a way to pay them back and bring top-class international entertainment to the festival.
“It just happened because we had spoken to some Australian artists but it was difficult to fit into their schedules, but (Eric) happened to be available at the time,” he said.
“We were looking for someone and suddenly an email popped up (from management) and the minute we played his music, we thought it was meant to be. He’s very altruistic and likes to entertain.”
Mr Jones said CowboyUp would add “a whole different layer to the Tamworth festival”.
“I believe there is a place for this because good entertainers, no matter what nationality, is great entertainment,” he said.
“We’ve had lots of support for this.”
Tamworth will not be the only stop for the concept with Mr Jones planning to take it on the road with different artists.
“The ABCRA wants to be a longterm supporter of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, so hopefully we can get some Australian artists on board to support this valuable resource in the community.”
Mr Jones said Beddingfield was rapt to be a part of it and couldn’t wait to get here.
Tamworth Regional Council Country Music Unit manager Barry Harley said this event would book-end the entertainment at the Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre, with the ABCRA National Finals Rodeo closing the entertainment on the final Saturday of the festival.
“AELEC is the largest attended venue in the whole Tamworth precinct,” he said.
Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service New England North West event coordinator Jeff Galbraith said next year was going to be a huge one for the service as they started the 10-year contract with the Ambulance Service of NSW.
“What a great way to start the year with an event like CowboyUp,” he said.
CowboyUp is on Saturday, January 21 with rodeo, a ute show and Eric Lee Beddingfield at the Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre in Tamworth.