Country music attracts all ages
Country singers from Nelson, Tasman and Canterbury will bring their down-home Southern flavour to the 28th Sun City Country Music Awards this weekend.
The awards, held at the Nelson Suburban Club in Tahunanui, operate as a talent show-style competition.
In an ironic twist, several contestants have been lured away by Auckland auditions for the reality television series The X Factor, but organiser Linda Hahn said she still had 66 people registered to perform 280 acts.
The competition is run by Nelson's Country Music Club but it is open to any club member from around New Zealand.
Auditions will be held from 8am on Saturday and 8.30am on Sunday but Linda said the best acts would be in the Sunday finals from 1.30pm onwards. Categories include gospel, old-time, and country rock.
The artists are a diverse crowd with the youngest contestant just 2 years old.
Linda's daughter Abbey Hahn won the competition for the first time aged 3 and is now competing as a 13-year-old. "It's a family-oriented thing," said Linda, who used to compete as well.
"You don't just get the mums entertaining, you get the mums and the kids, and sometimes even the whole family up there."
She was particularly looking forward to seeing Murchison sisters Jemma and Jade Gibson perform as the Gibson Girls.
The pair won the junior title at Gore's prestigious Golden Guitar awards in June last year, using the prize money to travel to the Tamworth Country Music Festival in Australia this year.
Attending the auditions costs $5 for an adult and the finals concert costs $15 for adults and $10 for children under 18.