Man From Snowy River Bush Festival chairman Cameron Jackson's mobile phone has stopped ringing and leaving him with a sense of trepidation about what curve ball was coming next.
The Upper Murray's biggest drawcard is off and running after joining the long list of COVID-19 casualties in the last 12 months.
But a steely determination to ensure the festival went ahead in 2021 has not been without its stressful moments in navigating the state government's rules for hosting large scale public gatherings.
Crowd numbers inside the Corryong Recreation Reserve have been capped at 5000 people and at the re-enactment of Banjo Paterson's poem on farmland at Thowgla there were only 3000 people allowed.
Face masks also need to be carried by festival attendees and worn if they feel social distancing can't be achieved.
"Every single day until it started I thought we could get the rug pulled out from underneath us," Mr Jackson said.
"Every time my phone rang and it was a private number, which the government rings on, there was always a heart stopping moment.
"Until we had the first person through the gate (on Thursday) there was always that worry something could happen."
The most recent cause for alarm was the Brisbane cluster of virus cases, but the festival is underway and providing a timely pick-up for a community which has bravely dealt with the 2019-20 summer bushfires followed by COVID.
Additional COVID-19 safety measures required by organisers have seen regular festival goers put their hands up to be volunteers this weekend.
"We've got COVID safe marshalls around the place everywhere in addition to the hundreds of volunteers," Mr Jackson said.
"We've also got local people back involved who haven't been involved for a while."
Upper Murray Incorporated's Jo Mackinnon said the community's resilience was on full display.
"Of course we had the fires followed by COVID, but the border closure had a huge impact on the community as a whole, especially Corryong given it provides services to the NSW residents in the Upper Murray as well," she said.
"But we've shown our true colours and that resilience is out there for everyone to see."
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Evidence of the festival's popularity was the 50 spots for Riley's Ride from Tom Groggin Station to Thowgla, a distance of 100km, were snapped up in a heart beat.
"We had 26 rider changes from the 50 we had for the 2020 ride, but there was no problem finding another 26," Mr Jackson said.
"Some people had weddings which had been postponed and clashed.
"We lost eight riders to the floods up in NSW recently, but we've been able to replace them."
The annual Friday street parade is the biggest festival attraction not being held this year.
But the festival will be the first major event utilised by the Upper Murray Events Centre at the recreation reserve.
Bankrolled with federal, state and local government funding, the centre was under construction when the bushfires licked the edges of Corryong in late 2019.
"It is fantastic to have the festival on again, especially after COVID and businesses doing it really tough," Towong mayor David Wortmann said.
"It is great seeing some tourists back in the town and people getting out socialising.
"The only downside has been the pressure put on volunteers for the event to be COVID safe."
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