IT might have constantly rained, but the inclement weather didn't drown enthusiasm among music fans for the return of The Gum Ball.
A crowd of 1200 turned out for the three-day music festival, which finished on Sunday at the bush property of Dashville in Lower Belford.
Gum Ball was the first multi-day music festival to return in NSW following the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning a day before Wollongong's 14,000-capacity Yours and Owls.
The cancellation of the 2020 Gum Ball a month out from the festival placed major financial pressure on Dashville director Matt Johnston and his events business.
After the cancellation of Bluesfest mere days before it was due to start on April 1 because of a case of COVID-19 in Byron Bay, Johnston was nervous leading into Gum Ball's return.
"It's a huge relief," Johnston said. "Bluesfest was two weeks ago.
"On Thursday I was running around thinking, imagine getting the pin pulled.
"Two weeks ago we didn't know how it was gonna evolve over Easter and they took a pretty hard bullet."
However, The Gum Ball ran according to plan with minimal restrictions. Punters were allowed to dance and mingle freely and enjoy the various music, comedy, workshops, markets and children's activities.
"People genuinely want to get back out and yesterday [Friday] was pure evidence of that," Johnston said.
"People were ready to go and having a great time."
No one was more grateful for Gum Ball's return than the musicians.
The festival featured an array of acclaimed Australian musicians such as The Beautiful Girls, iOTA, The Soul Movers, Harts, Even and Cash Savage & The Last Drinks, plus many of the Hunter's finest including Lachlan X. Morris, Melody Pool, Tori Forsyth and Dave Wells.
Most of the artists were originally scheduled to perform in 2020.
"When 2020 didn't happen, there was only one thing we could do and that was to get these bands back, because they missed the opportunity as well," Johnston said.