AT A time when other music festivals are struggling or dying, the organisers of the Kiama Jazz and Blues Festival are far from taking the event's success lightly.
In the lead-up to this year's 25th birthday event, Festival co-ordinator Ross Eggleton paid tribute to the area's businesses and audiences for supporting what has grown into a major tourism and economic drawcard for the region.
Mr Eggleton said in planning this year's event they didn't stray too far from the winning formula of top acts but stressed keeping performances free was a priority.
"We concentrated on making it free,'' he said,. "The first free one we did was last year and that was highly successful so we wanted to repeat that success and make it even bigger."
More than 20 venues will host more than 50 gigs, more than 35 bands, more than 100 performers over the festival weekend March 9, 10 and 11.
Most of the gigs take place in the Kiama CBD, at the Kiama Leagues Club and the Sebel Kiama, plus a variety of clubs, pubs, restaurants and cafes over the weekend from Gerroa to Jamberoo to Minnamurra.
Highlights include the All Day Jazz & Blues concert on the Sunday in Hindmarsh Park with six bands playing throughout the day, Eat to the Beat, Young Bands Come out to Play, Jazz Gospel Service, Jazz Breakfasts and roaming bands.
Mr Eggleton said formulating the performer's list was a year-long process of listening, taking note and making a "wish list".
"You look at who you want, who is available and who you can afford!'' Mr Eggleton said.
While the spilt between jazz and blues acts is roughly 50-50, Mr Eggleton said the blues line-up was particularly strong this year.
In the event of wet weather, Mr Eggleton said the festival performances slated for Hindmarsh Park would move to the Kiama Leagues Club.
Festival programs are available from Kiama Tourism and cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs throughout town or visit
Turn to pages 19, 20 and 21 for more festival news.