Summer festivals shine in the Bay

By Genevieve Helliwell

Record attendance at summer festivals is giving Bay event organisers confidence that local events will be well supported for the remainder of summer and beyond.

So far this year, families, adults and teenagers have flocked to concerts, festivals and community activities held across the Western Bay, with some events noting a record number of guests.

Event organisers attributed fine weather as the catalyst for event support, despite locals leaving it until the last minute to buy tickets.

Organisers of the Katikati Avocado Food and Wine Festival, on Saturday, were thrilled with the event's 1500 guests. Festival co-ordinator Dave Crispin told the Bay of Plenty Times the atmosphere was light and everyone appeared to be enjoying themselves.

"It went very well and there was an excellent turn-out. In terms of numbers we did a bit better than last year but not a lot.

"I don't have a figure but I'd say there was about 200 to 300 more than last year."

Early-bird tickets were slow to sell but plenty of patrons turned out on the day.

"I think the weather had a big impact ... and many people had the 'wait and see' mentality to see what the weather was doing, but with two fine days on the Thursday and Friday prior, everything turned out well."

The added support from the avocado industry also helped boost interest in the festival, Mr Crispin said.

Proceeds raised from the festival, estimated at $10,000 to $15,000, will be donated to the Cancer Society for its new lodge in Hamilton.

Also on Saturday, more than 7000 people passed through the gates of the 118th annual Tauranga A&P; show at Tauranga Racecourse - almost double the number that attended last year.

On January 12, a sell-out crowd welcomed the return of the Tauranga Boutique Seafood Festival - Tauranga's Dive Crescent buzzed with a 1000-strong crowd.

Creative Tauranga chief executive Tracey Rudduck-Gudsell said she was praying for the fine weather to continue for the second annual Summerfest family music festival on February 2. "We are really happy with how things are going so far.

"We are feeling pretty confident that it will be another amazing family day out and we are hoping this bout of sunshine stays around because good weather makes people feel better and want to get out and about," she told the Bay of Plenty Times.

As of yesterday, ticket sales were higher than the same time last year, she said.

"Touch wood but things appear to be going really well. The festival has such a feel-good factor and we're hoping this year's Summerfest will be just as successful, if not more successful, than last year."

Despite high attendances at many Bay festivals this year, one was cancelled.

The Outdoor Comedy Store, scheduled for Mount Maunganui on January 10, was canned due to lack of ticket sales.

Organisers said sales targets were not met and it was a "clear business decision" to cancel the show.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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