Exodus Festival set for the rain

By Michele McPherson

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Rain or shine, the biggest New Year's Eve event in the Western Bay is going ahead tonight.

But organisers are warning revellers to trade the high heels for gumboots.

About 5000 tickets have been sold for the Exodus Festival on rural land in Bell Rd, Papamoa.

Organiser Tim Cooper was surprised the highest number of tickets was sold when the weather forecast looked grim and the rain had already arrived on Thursday.

"We're going ahead. We sort of knew about it [the bad weather] 10 days ago and we've got everything in place to get though," he said.

A relaxing of the rules means shelters and gazebos are now allowed to be brought in to the festival and extra marquees have been set up on the grass.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

"We've told them 'dress appropriately, we're in the middle of nowhere. Don't dress in high heels, come in gumboots'," Mr Cooper said.

The sandy beachside soil was helping prevent things getting muddy underfoot, there was no flooding and the property was draining well, he said.

Mr Cooper was pleased the event, presented by Reggae by Nature, had attracted a mix of ethnicities, rather than the predominantly Maori and Pacific Island crowd at their events during the year.

Yesterday he said a wide age range of patrons, including some kaumatua and kuia, had bought tickets to the R18 event.

"We've been setting up since before Christmas. We've been running around pretty much 24 hours for the last few days but we're getting there," he said.

Police concerns meant the crowd numbers were capped at 8000 and organisers predicted they may have sold another couple of thousand tickets had the weather been fine.

"We only ever were aiming between 4000 and 6000," he said.

All the acts including Katchafire, House of Shem and 3 Houses Down would perform as planned.

He said about 400 staff, including food, alcohol, merchandise and cultural stall holders, would be working at the festival.

Meanwhile, the owner of Mount Maunganui's Brewer's Bar, Glenn Meikle, was expecting a crowd of about 600 at the Dave Dobbyn concert last night which he said would easily fit under the covered area, which provided standing room for about 1000.

"There's no water on the grass because the marquee's been up for so long," he said.

He hoped the weather would clear before the next outdoor concert on January 3.

Down the road at iconic New Year's Eve venue Papamoa Tavern, manager Sally Kernohan said staff had erected extra marquees in the garden bar to accommodate those attending The Feelers concert tonight.

More than 1000 tickets had been sold; however the venue could hold up to 3000, she said.

She put the lower ticket sales down to the effect of the Rena oil disaster in Papamoa coupled with the bad weather this week.

"I just noticed the campgrounds, they're not as full as they usually are," she said.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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