Storm forces delay of today's Birdman events

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But tomorrow's events, including the Birdman jump, to go ahead as planned
Mrs Brown (Gary Hooson) and granddad (Rob Williams) were among the stars of last year's Russell Birdman Festival. PHOTO / PETER DE GRAAF
Mrs Brown (Gary Hooson) and granddad (Rob Williams) were among the stars of last year's Russell Birdman Festival. PHOTO / PETER DE GRAAF

The extreme weather still lashing Northland has forced Russell's Birdman Festival to be compressed into two days instead of the usual three.

The events scheduled for this afternoon - including the popular drag race - have been postponed until Saturday and will now take place after the 2pm Birdman jump.

They include the kids' fancy dress competition, the drag race, and the street party. Tonight's Elvis Ball will go ahead as planned.

Saturday morning's events are also due to go ahead a s scheduled, weather permitting.
Birdman Charitable Trust chair Bridget Hughes expected the storm to blow through by noon on Saturday.

Entries for the Birdman jump, in which competitors leap from Russell wharf in elaborate costumes and flying machines, were down on last year but there was strong interest in the drag race, in which contestants dress as the opposite sex - frocks, high heels and handbags compulsory for men - and complete an obstacle course.

New events this year include the kids' fancy dress competition and street party with food stalls and live music.

Sunday's Great Russell Race, in which teams follow a series of clues and complete challenges around town, would return after its success last year.

The Duke of Marlborough is putting in another mass Elvis entry but long-time Birdman, Barry Price, 67, is retiring this year after reaching the pinnacle of winning the Supreme Birdman title last year. Mr Price dressed as a can of "baked beans in farting sauce". He may be back in 2015 as a flying pig.

Another regular, Gary Hooson, who entered last year as Mrs Brown, is keeping his fans on tenterhooks by refusing to confirm whether he will maintain his tradition of being the first to jump.

Last year, which had the benefit of fine weather, up to 5000 people attended. Mrs Hughes said accommodation providers had a lot of weekend bookings from people travelling to Russell specifically for the festival from as far away as Taupo.

AMENDED BIRDMAN PROGRAMME
Approximate only. Some events still subject to weather.

Saturday
9.30am-1.30pm: Kids zone, Memorial Hall.
9.30am: Beach dig, in front of Four Square.
10.30am: Dinghy races.
10.30-11.30am: Eggstravaganza, beachfront.
10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm (final): Wok cook off, Cass St.
11am-12pm: Spaghetti eating competitions, Cass St.
1.30pm: Birdman parade.
2pm: Birdman jump, Russell wharf.
About 3pm on (events originally scheduled for Friday): Kids fancy dress parade competition, Cass St, for tots up to 16 year olds; street party, with live music and food stalls; drag race (men wear a frock, heels and handbag; ladies dress as blokes; prizes include a $200 bar tab), drag race prize giving, Duke of Marlborough Hotel.
3.30pm: Singing Pirates Captain Festus McBoyle and Fungal Finnegan, main stage.
4.45pm: Birdman prize giving, Duke of Marlborough Tavern.
7pm: Elvis Ball, Duke of Marlborough Tavern.

Sunday
10am: Cake baking and decorating, Sally's Restaurant.
10.30am: Musical chair madness, beachfront.
11.30am: The Great Russell Race, Russell wharf.
1-2.30pm: Kids fishing competition, Russell wharf.

See russellbirdman.co.nz for more information.

- Northern Advocate

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