CAMELS AND CULTURE: The famous camel races are a huge draw card for crowds visiting the Tara Festival of Culture.
CAMELS AND CULTURE: The famous camel races are a huge draw card for crowds visiting the Tara Festival of Culture. Stephen Mowbray

Record crowds descend on Tara for festival

CULTURE, camel races and country lifestyle will collide to bring crowds to the Western Downs this weekend for the popular bi-ennial Tara Festival of Culture and Camel races.

What started in a shearing shed as a plan to put Tara on the map has transformed into a three-day cultural extravaganza.

Lou Thornbury was among the original creators of the Tara festival in 2000 but said it had since become a unique way to draw people out of the city to enjoy country culture.

"It's going to be bigger and better this year by all accounts... I'm just finding it's getting bigger. It's a good thing for Tara,” she said.

With an expected 10,000 people descending on Tara for the three-day program, it's come a long way since a crowd of 950 gathered for the first Tara Camel Races in 2001.

The popular camel racing will once again be a draw card for attendees and jockeys alike with the 14 race program spanning Saturday and Sunday and more races than ever before with four heats each day and 30 camels taking to the track.

The camel races this year are among the richest in the country, offering a prize pool of $30,000.

If the action on the track isn't enough, patrons will also have the popular yabby racing and a full entertainment program to look forward to.

Entertainment coordinator Jessica Wilson said the event offered a diverse program with non-stop cultural performances. "You can be track side one minute watching camels race down the race track and then you turn around and there's entertainment happening right around you,” she said.

Attendees can get to know various cultures with demonstrations of Bollywood dancing, Japanese drummers, African dancers, Cuban dancers, a Spanish Mariachi Band, a Celtic rock band and more.

Australian culture will also be on show with whip cracking, camp oven coking and sheep shearing demonstrations added to the already action packed cultural schedule.

Miss Wilson said while attendees would be spoilt for choice in terms of entertainment, watching award winning country band The McClymonts take to the stage on Saturday night was an absolute must.

"I think it's going to blow everyone away,” she said.

Tara festival starts today and runs until Sunday. Tickets are $35 per adult for a three day pass.