The country music capital of New Zealand is set to come alive again this weekend with the 46th running of the New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards.
The week-long event attracts more than 5000 people annually to the town and is one of the biggest annual events to happen in Gore.
Close to 700 competitors are expected to take part this year with events including the New Zealand Country Music Awards, MLT Songwriting Awards as well as a variety of concerts and busking competitions.
Spokeswoman Helen van der Linden said another major attraction for the event was the MLT Music Round Up, which featured six venues of free music featuring some of the top country talent including Jody Direen, Arun O’Connor, Jenny Mitchell, Phil Doublet and Australian Singer Songwriter Luke O’Shea.
The major prize across the festival is the Senior Overall Award, which last year was won by Invercargill singer Arun O’Connor.
“[O’Connor] has made the very best of winning the accolade,” Mrs van der Linden said. “Since June last year he’s travelled to Nashville to record a single, Tamworth for the Tamworth Country Music Festival and has just returned from the Trans-Tasman Entertainer of the Year competition in Norfolk Island.”
Auditions for the awards will be held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with judges choosing finalists across a variety of categories including male and female solo, gospel, traditional, new country, country rock, duet, vocal group, New Zealand Song and instrumental.
Finals for junior and intermediate performers take place on Saturday night, while the senior final will be held on Sunday. Contestants enter the categories as an individual, in a duet and/or as part of a group.
This article was originally written for The Advocate. You can read the published version here