THE crowds at the fifth annual Dashville Skyline might have been down on last year's edition, but the event again played to its strengths of being a community-minded music festival.
Families dominated the audience at the dusty Lower Belford property as children visited the petting zoo with chickens and llamas, while parents relaxed in camping chairs watching acts like Indigenous folk legends Archie Roach and Bellbird's William Crighton.
The "cosmic country weekender" of Americana music kicked off on Friday in sweltering 30-plus temperatures before a cool change delivered comfortable conditions for punters throughout the main days on Saturday and Sunday.
Last year's event - headlined by Australian folk heavyweights The Waifs - brought a record crowd of 1500 to Skyline.
The figure was down this year, but Dashville organiser Matt Johnston was pleased with the result and the "comfortable" crowd size.
"It's the fifth year of the festival and the last few days have been weird in that everything has gone smooth," Johnston said.
"I've been waiting for something to go wrong in terms of the operation, but I think we've gotten it going smoothly.
"We have a lot of great volunteers helping out, so I've actually had some time on my hands to enjoy the music."
Dashville introduced several new elements this year, including a musician's instrument swap meet and a songwriter's panel hosted by alt-country stalwart Jason Walker.
But at the core of Dashville Skyline is the music.
The likes of Northern Ireland singer Amy Montgomery, Melbourne songwriter Skyscraper Stan and American southern-rocker Hannah Aldridge all impressed, but it was emerging Newcastle artists Ahlia Williams and Nicholas Connors that caught Johnston's ear.
"They absolutely killed it," he said. "They're only young and I think that's a good sign for the next generation.
"They were literally the same age when I started doing this, so it's nice to see the next round of young ones coming in and coming in hot."
It's been a difficult six months for music festivals in NSW since Premier Gladys Berejiklian introduced tighter restrictions, following a spate of drug-related deaths.
While none of the Dashville events featured on the controversial "higher risk" list and they usually attract a more mature demographic, Johnston said the regulations had added greater uncertainty in hosting music festivals.
"All the people just doing their job understand where we're coming from and that communication is starting to funnel back to the government and hopefully they understand you can't fit everyone into the same basket," he said.
"This festival is part of the economy and it supports a lot of musicians and providers like sound guys right down to the pump truck guy.
"Everyone has a role to play and it's community building."