Visitor stays down, but Bluewater deemed a success

SWEET MOMENT: A couple go for a spin during Liz Carter and Charlie Saliba's set in the Bluewater Country Music Festival on Saturday morning. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

SWEET MOMENT: A couple go for a spin during Liz Carter and Charlie Saliba's set in the Bluewater Country Music Festival on Saturday morning. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

An estimated 12,000 people attended the Bluewater Country Music Festival during the long weekend, pumping life and dollars into the Tomaree Peninsula.

However, the wet weather did little favours for some of the Port’s accommodation hubs.

Lisa O’Meara, a manager with O’Meara Property in Nelson Bay, said the long weekend was quieter than in previous years.

Of its 230 holiday properties around the Bay, 181 had been let to visitors across the weekend.

“It was a little bit quieter this season,” she said. “We had a lot of last minute bookings late last week, which was a little surprising, but the weather didn’t help at all.

“When you have bad weather it does deter visitors.”

The Bureau of Meteorology had been predicting rain for Nelson Bay in the week leading up to the festival.

According to the BOM, 103.1mm of rain fell in the Bay between Friday and Sunday.

While most days of the festival were clear, the overnight rain deterred some stallholders from setting up, especially on Sunday.

Despite lower numbers staying in the Bay, Mrs O’Meara said there was a noticeable buzz around the streets on the weekend.

Ryan Palmer, president of the Tomaree Business Chamber and a Bluewater organiser, said the Port Stephens festival had been simply “amazing”.

“We estimated around 12,000 people attended over the weekend, which is fantastic,” Mr Palmer said.

“We had sold out gigs all across the peninsula including Beccy Cole on Sunday and Brothers3 and Viper Creek Band at Wests on Saturday.”

The festival began with the official launch in Nelson Bay on Wednesday, June 7 and ran through until Monday, June 12.

Gold Guitar winner and country music star Beccy Cole’s show at Soldiers Point Bowling Club on Sunday night was a sell out. Feedback about the show was positive.

“Brothers3 there were here eight years ago, Amber Lawrence was here 10 years ago and now they're some of our headliners,” Mr Palmer said.

“It [festival] has been really good. I’m really proud. The volunteers have done a fantastic job. Without them, the festival isn’t possible.” 

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