A multi-award winning Australian yodeller will perform at the Taranaki Country Music Festival next month.
The festival is being held at the Waitara War Memorial Hall between February 16-18 and will feature yodeller Laura Downing from Australia as well as Kiwi artists from all over the country.
Country music enthusiasts Jocelyn and George Tuahine — who run the Riverside Country Music Group and are also performers — have organised the festival together and Jocelyn says Laura is a talented singer and yodeller who falls into the true traditional country music style genre.
"She performed at the Paihia Country Rock festival and went down really well with the crowd as she has loads of jokes and is a bit of a comedian.
"We are excited about the event — it's come together nicely and we are really looking forward to it now."
Jocelyn says they have been working on organising the festival for the last eight months and have held three fundraising concerts in New Plymouth to support the festival financially.
Artists travelled to Taranaki at their own expense to appear in the concerts, which she was really grateful for.
After travelling to numerous country music festivals throughout New Zealand, it occurred to Jocelyn that Taranaki needed one too.
"I said to George there's nothing here in Taranaki. Do you think we could do one?
"After we looked into it he agreed. It's been a lot of hard work getting it off the ground."
Jocelyn says there has been a lot of interest in the festival and people will be coming to Waitara from all over New Zealand. Those with campervans, caravans and tents can camp across the road from the hall at Waitara Central School, says Jocelyn. "They will need to let us know and register their interest in advance."
The festival will include jam sessions, square dance performances as well as plenty of opportunities for people to get up and perform during open mic sessions.
Central Taranaki will be well represented on stage, with Stratford singers Lindsay Berquist and Jo Jones as well as Eltham performers Maree Wheeler and Shamika Hoeta performing at the festival.
On the Friday there will be busking in the main street of Waitara at 11am. The town is getting behind this event, dressing up their shops in country style to be judged on the best country and western looking shop.
Food will be available at the hall and there will be stalls inside and outside selling a range of wares including Western jewellery and apparel.
For more information on entry prices and camping go to www.taranakifestival.co.nz