FESTIVAL LAUNCHED: Carol Stacey, from Ballina, last week officially launched the Ballina Coastal Country Music Festival, with help from Issy Neville and Miss Millie the horse at the northern end of Seven Mile Beach, Lennox Head.
FESTIVAL LAUNCHED: Carol Stacey, from Ballina, last week officially launched the Ballina Coastal Country Music Festival, with help from Issy Neville and Miss Millie the horse at the northern end of Seven Mile Beach, Lennox Head.

Country Music Festival launched

THERE is now even more reason to set aside the long weekend in October next year as a big weekend for Ballina – with music.


The Ballina Coastal Country Music Festival was officially launched last week.


It will be on at the same time as the Marine Rescue Ballina Boat and Leisure Show, the North Coast Fishing Bonanza and the Ballina Island Paddle Challenge.


The country riffs will be heard at venues around town from September 30 to October 2, 2011.


Festival organiser Carol Stacey said 25 artists already have been lined up, and she currently is in ‘positive’ talks with national country music icons to perform.


The not-for-profit local festival was inspired by Carol’s visits to the Tamworth Country Music Festival over the years, and she has a team of six helping her get the event up and running.


“It’s time, I thought, we had a festival for us,” she said. “With the support of the people of Ballina, this will be very positive not only economically, but will give our town a heart.”


While there have been several attempts to start music festivals in Ballina, with Beats on the Beach and Raggamuffin being held in town each only once, Carol says she thinks a country music festival will be different.


“People embrace the country music in Tamworth,” she said.


“It pulls the community together.”


The plan for the event is to have ticketed-entry feature acts on the Friday and Sunday nights at the Ballina RSL Club, and another at the Ballina Bowling and Recreation Club on the Saturday night, with other musicians playing free gigs at other venues around town.


Busking competitions will be held in River Street on the Saturday and Sunday of the festival. The festival has been in the planning for four months.


Carol has approached Ballina Shire Council for funding, and has been getting advice from the Tamworth Country Music Festival organisers.


She said the event is estimated to cost $80,000 to put on, and is actively seeking sponsorship.


She said it was likely the music festival, like the other events to be held on the weekend, would bring in people to Ballina – as well as providing entertainment of the people who come to town for the boat show, fishing competition and paddle challenge.


Carol’s husband Jack is a well-known local musician, and Carol has in the past been involved in booking musicians to Ballina from major cities.


Anyone wanting to provide sponsorship, or local musicians who want to be involved, can phone Carol on 6686 7670. The not-for-profit festival will be run under the wing of Ballina community radio station, Paradise FM.


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