Raggamuffin: Star acts try local flavours

By Kristin Macfarlane

You know Raggamuffin has arrived in Rotorua when Spawnbreezie and J Boog are eating fish and chips at Oppie's.

Today, the fifth annual Raggamuffin festival gets under way at the Rotorua International Stadium after last night's pre-party and a rush on ticket sales.

A couple of the main international acts, Spawnbreezie and J Boog and their crews, were spotted getting a meal last night at Oppie's, which Spawnbreezie told The Daily Post earlier in the week he became familiar with last year.

He and J Boog attracted plenty of attention from passersby and other Raggamuffin fans getting their dinner and happily posed for photographs.

Oppie's owner, Michael Huang, offered to take the performers sightseeing on Sunday after reading that all Spawnbreezie had really seen of Rotorua was the stadium and his fish and chip shop.

Earlier in the day, there was a last-minute rush on tickets at the Rotorua Convention Centre with queues out the door.

"Sales have been steady," said festival director Jackie Sanders. She also expected a steady stream of gate sales today.

"We know fans have tight budgets this year so we are not going to increase the price of a ticket on the gate as we have done in previous years."

Yesterday, The Daily Post was contacted by a man who said he was Ali Campbell's manager and there was a possibility the Raggamuffin headliner would not be performing tonight. The man, Chris Harrison, said some "contractual obligations" weren't being met and if the issue wasn't sorted by today, Campbell, of UB40 fame, would not be performing. Mr Harrison said Campbell wanted to perform in Rotorua after doing shows in Australia because he loved the place but if the issues weren't sorted, his team had advised him to not get on stage.

Attempts to contact Campbell's UK office to confirm this were unsuccessful, as were attempts to call Mr Harrison back and Raggamuffin organisers said there was no doubt Campbell was performing. Spokeswoman Sandra Roberts said she spoke with Campbell late yesterday and he was performing.

Preparations for an expected crowd of about 20,000 today have included ordering in huge amounts of food and drink.

Food and beverage manager Rob Prior said there were plenty of choices with everything from hangi and boil-up to buritos and Jamaican food.

Among the food ordered was 100kg of whitebait, 600kg of hot chips and enough American hotdog sausages to stretch about 1km end to end.

Among this year's performers are Ali Campbell, J Boog, Arrested Development, Billy Ocean, Big Mountain, Jnr Marvin, Spawnbreezie, Kora, Katchafire, House of Shem, 1814, Cornerstone Roots, Three Houses Down, NRG Rising, Tomorrow People, Soljah, Foundation, Chad Chambers, DJ Sir-Vere and DJ Poroufessor.

Police are asking people to look after themselves and their mates and use common sense.

Rotorua Police area tactical response manager Inspector Ed van den Broek said police would be visible around the stadium, central city and on the roads this weekend.

"We're also asking people to take some responsibility for keeping themselves safe and out of trouble.

"Know what you can take into the venue, make sure you have a sober driver or a safe way to get home and familiarise yourself with the liquor ban areas."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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