From festivities to engagement

As the chill of winter settles in, we bid farewell to yet another successful Bayleys Tussock Country Music Festival. Once again, Southland’s vibrant country music scene took center stage, with over 60 events drawing enthusiasts from far and wide to celebrate Kiwi country culture. This year’s festival coincided with the council’s annual plan hearings, blending festivities with community engagement.

For the first time, the festival began with a night of glamour at the Country Music Honours, where I had the honour and pleasure of officially opening the festival.

On the Sunday night, one of my favourite events was the Country Music Queen crowning. Such an entertaining night with incredibly talented contestants. Well done to everyone who entered and congratulations to our new County Music Queen Ali Green and runner-up Michaela Jameson.

And as is traditional, the festival’s conclusion, the MLT NZ Gold Guitar Awards showcased the incredible talent of our musicians.

Amy Maynard won the top prize — great work Amy!

Amid the musical excitement, the council hearings provided a stark contrast, but it did recognise the dynamic nature of our community, with residents passionately presenting their submissions on local issues.

This balance between celebration and responsibility highlights Gore’s unique community spirit and reminds us of the importance of engaging in both cultural festivities and civic duties.

As the festival concluded and the council hearings wrapped up, I felt a profound sense of pride in our town.

The Bayleys Tussock Country Music Festival continues to solidify Gore’s status as the New Zealand capital of country music, while the council submissions emphasised the significance of the conversations ahead, especially as we dive into long-term plan discussions.

This week was a testament to Gore’s character — a community that embraces both joyous celebrations and serious responsibilities with equal fervour.

I extend my thanks to everyone who participated, and I cant wait for next year’s festival, especially as we mark the 50th anniversary of the MLT Gold Guitars.