Ohakune's big carrot turns twenty next month


Ohakune's famed gargantuan gastronomic symbol, the giant carrot, is set to celebrate its 20th birthday early next month.
The 7.5 metre tall orange and green imitation vegetable stands at the gateway to the town, but life has not always been so rosy for the symbol of New Zealand's farmers and growers.
From its birth television advertising and endorsements from the ANZ Bank sealed the fate of the big carrot as a pillar of the community.
Controversy and conflict marked the birth of this famous landmark in the Ohakune community.
Chaos reined when in 1982, on behalf of the Ohakune Growers Association, Peter Hammond (later to become world famous in Ohakune as the Carrot Guru), proposed to erect a big carrot on the outskirts of town.
The monument to vegetable growing was considered too phallic by some and two swedes were suggested early in the debate.
Placing the carrot on a triangle of native bush-clad ground at the northern end of town caused the townspeople to call foul.
The debate over the carrot and its suitability and positioning continued until 1984, when the present position at Rochfort Park was chosen, and the wider community and the Ohakune District Council finally agreed to allow the venerable vegetable to be erected.
A cavalcade of local growers and community members travelled with the carrot on the journey from Wellington to its final home.
Celebrity status was accorded to the carrot on the way with many New Zealanders lining SH1 to wave and welcome the icon on its drive through their town or city.
On September 29 1984 the Ohakune Growers Association celebrated the adoption and marriage of the community with its new landmark.
Since then many thousands of people (some with celebrity status themselves) have been seen, filmed or photographed fawning at the foot of the famous monument.
Celebrations on October 9 include market gardening-associated competitions involving might, muscle and machines.
These competitions, such as Lift and Load, Get Down Tie Down, Sort It Out and Stack Em and Wrap Em, will amaze and astound the crowds through out the day.
Charities and schools will raise funds by providing food.
There will be free fun for children with prizes and giveaways in competitions such as the veggie obstacle course, a swede shy and a photo stall.
Elvis will return, along with local entertainers, for two shows in Ohakune on the big day.

Later, celebrations will culminate with a Carrot Cabaret.
Old garden grower identities and VIP vegetable veterans from all parts of the paddock have been invited to attend. For further information on the event and competition rules ring Kandy Mott on 06 385 8090. ? Information supplied by the Ohakune Growers Association.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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