Australian Country music artists
The mass number of visitors means that accommodation throughout the area is consistently booked out for this period up to 12 months in advance, with many visitors camping in caravans, camper vans and tents by the city's riverside and numerous other temporary camping sites throughout the region. The festival is the second biggest country music festival in the world, after Nashville.
A significant amount of media coverage is given locally and national, in the printed media and also with the three big commercial networks the Nine Network, Channel 7 and Ten Network having broadcast news and segments from the festival. There is also national radio coverage from stations including ABC Radio Australia and syndicated country music program Ben Sorensen's REAL Country broadcasting from the festival each year.
When the Tamworth Country Music Festival commenced is often debated. In 1968 the then Tamworth branch of the Modern Country Music Association, now the Capital Country Music Association (CCMA), began a talent quest on the Australia Day January Long weekend. The talent quest, now known as the CCMA National Talent Quest, is considered a major influence in what was to become the Festival in January 1973 with the first staging, by local radio station 2TM, of the Australasian Country Music Awards (aka the Golden Guitar Awards for its unique "golden guitar" trophy) as part of its Country Music Capital promotion which had commenced in 1969.
The festival expanded to many other activities, with events running back throughout the week before the Awards and National Talent Quest staged on what was then the Australia Day long weekend. These events included Bluegrass Championships, Hands of Fame inductions, the Roll of Renown, rodeo events, Coca Cola Concerts, Toyota Star Maker Quest, Tamworth Songwriters' Association Awards, busking in Peel Street, the Cavalcade and industry seminars among other events. These events were promoted to highlight Australian Country Music and to draw attention to the climax of the 10 days, the Golden Guitar Awards.
Radio 2TM ran the Awards until 1993 when they were passed on to the newly formed national industry organisation, the Country Music Association of Australia. The staging of the Golden Guitar Awards moved from Sunday to the Saturday night in the last full weekend in January as the Australia day public holiday was moved to float with the 26 January date.