THEY drove for 12 hours, sweltered in over 40 degree heat and got stuck for days because of flooding on their way home.

But you couldn't wipe the smile off the faces of the Pioneer Valley Country Music Club members who gushed about their experience at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

"It was amazing, it was just great," Ashlyn Neil, 16, said yesterday.

"We got to meet a lot of the stars."

Jasmine Ray, Casey Chambers, Adam Brand, Jetty Road and Craig Campbell were just some of the names the country-singing enthusiasts were able to drop when they talked about their experience at the music festival.

Karrie Hayward, 14, even got the chance to perform with one of her idols, Adam Brand.

"It was just a thrill," Karrie said.

"It was surreal; it felt like it didn't really happen."

The group has grown closer through the experience and they were quick to point out each other's achievements.

"Karrie was on stage with Adam Brand, so she didn't get to see it," Ashlyn said.

"But it was just awesome, there was a huge crowd."

The talented group plans to make the 12-hour drive south again for next year's festival.

Ashlyn said the whole town was alive with music.

"Every 10 metres there was a busker," she said.

"Even in the shopping centres, on the streets and in Hungry Jack's."

Oliver Carter-Beck, who sings and is learning to play the guitar, made the finals of the Aristocrat Entertainer of the Year competition.

Although they were kept busy performing over the festival, they all admitted it was much more like a holiday than work.



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