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Country stars join local hoedown

Lovers of country music are gearing up for the ninth year of Wairarapa Music in the Country, with three days scheduled in January for those who like their tunes with a little twang.

Wairarapa Racing Club general manager Matthew Sherry said there is a spectacular lineup promised for all ages, calling the range of artists booked to take the stage “a complete coup”.

“All of the artists are multi-award winning, including Silver Scrolls and a New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Music.”

Among the lineup is country and soul singer-songwriter Tami Neilson, a leading member of the country music industry who is known for her powerhouse vocals.

Other artists include southern songbird Jenny Mitchell, Warratahs legend and Greytown local Barry Saunders, and Patea Māori Club, the performance group renowned for hit song ‘Poi E’

Sherry said he recommends that those living in the region take advantage of the wide range of artists performing on their doorstep.

“We can’t wait to bring such a high calibre of artists and musicians to Tauherenikau,” Sherry said.

“Wairarapa Music in the Country is a highlight on our events calendar and is such a great experience for families and music lovers.

“Frankly, you won’t get a much better lineup than what we have.”

Last year, the festival [then called the Wairarapa Country Music Festival] drew thousands to the Tauherenikau Racecourse, despite the region being lashed with torrential rain for the entire event.

Sherry said the bout of wild weather didn’t stop the heaving crowd from making the most of it.

“It was crazy, there was water running under the stage, but there were still about 3000 people,” Sherry said.

“They were drenched, it was an incredible turnout for the weekend and they still had a ball.”

The festival’s roots go back to Clareville in 2014, where just a few hundred people attended.

“Hell yeah, it’s grown a lot,” Sherry said when asked for his reflections on the event’s evolution.

“There very much is a resurgence of country music, it’s definitely a growth area.”

Sherry noted younger performers in the lineup, such as Maddy Bean are a sign that a younger generation is helping breathe new life into the traditional scene of country and blues.

With 70 motorhomes already booked, Sherry estimates up to 300 motorhomes will head to the region for the festival, coming from far north to all the way down south.

All the visitors the festival brings to the region has a beneficial flow-on on effect to the local tourism industry, he said.

“They don’t just come for the festival; they’ll explore Wairarapa and have a good look around while they’re here.”

The festival is scheduled for January 5-7.

Ticket information and festival details are available on the Tauherenikau Racing and Event Centre website.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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