Avocado festival is a hit for organisers

By Chris Steel

Lions club members take a breather between jobs at the Avocado Food and Wine Festival. Photo / Supplied
Lions club members take a breather between jobs at the Avocado Food and Wine Festival. Photo / Supplied

The 2018 Avocado Food and Wine Festival held at the Uretara Domain last month has drawn positive and constructive feedback for next year.

With 3000 people, the biggest attendance at the festival yet, the toilets struggled to keep pace with the crowd, leading to long queues waiting.

Festival committee member Jacqui Knight says the committee acknowledges that they need more toilet facilities, which was the main area of concern.

"The number of vendors at 75 was about right for the size of the venue and none of them ran out of anything, and we could take another 1000 people.

"In light of the Kaikoura Seafood Festival being discontinued due to challenges with alcohol management, I think it's wise to keep our festival small.

"It's about the festival and we don't want to encourage a demographic that over-indulges in alcohol."

She said corporate industry sponsors have been fantastic. "There are a few that turned us down, but we will keep seeking support."

The vendors were keen to come back next year with a couple saying its the best festival they come to. Celebrity chef Shane Yardley is keen to come back, and most of the entertainers have expressed an interest in coming back. MC Will Johnston from The Hits is also keen to return.

First time vendors, the Western Bay Museum are keen to continue its competitions and pit tea. "The pit tea went down a real treat, manager Paula Gaelic said. "Next year I will make double the quantity."

Paula said the pit tea was unique and the health benefits brought everyone in to have a sample, 500 samples in fact.

"The colour was superb and the taste, not too bad at all, in fact many were off home to make a brew themselves. Thanks to all the people who collected avo pits for me."

The museum ran food and craft competitions. Entries were a little on the light side but all competitors went home loaded with prizes thanks to the sponsors. Next year they hope to have a lot more entries. Paula is keen to put out a challenge to packhouses and orchardists to get a little competitive with each other and have a big push to represent their brand.

The festival is managed on behalf of the Katikati FunFest Charitable Trust by the Pakeke Lions Club and the Lions Club of Katikati. The committee meet next in March to start planning all over again. Jacqui said there is some fine tuning to do on the traffic management plan, and motorhomes and they may have to look at a park and ride to make it as comfortable as possible for everyone.

Jacqui said overall the festival has been a positive experience. "It's just a matter of consistency now."

The festival raffle was won by Kaye Russell, second prize to David Perry, third to Sue Blackler and fourth to A and J van Derhyden. The $10,000 proceeds go to Katikati Primary School for a sound system in the classrooms.

- Katikati Advertiser

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