Just provide food and the crowds will come

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Majestic Square early in the evening.
Majestic Square early in the evening.

An evening food festival drew thousands of people in Whanganui on Thursday and, like Oliver Twist, prompted calls for more, please.

Eleven travelling fast food vendors set up in Majestic Square for the Thursday Night Street Feast co-organised and promoted by Whanganui Mainstreet.

Mainstreet spokeswoman Kelly Scarrow said the response from the Whanganui public was "fantastic".

"It was a great response. The vibe and the atmosphere were exactly what we were after."
Ms Scarrow said two of the visiting vendors served more than 1000 meals each between 5pm-9pm, or about one meal every 15 seconds.

She said Mainstreet did not have accurate figures but estimated "well over 6000" people turned out.

Asked if Mainstreet had received any objections from local food retailers, Ms Scarrow said they had not heard of any.

"Just the opposite. The feedback we've had from local food and beverage providers has been very positive.

"There was a large flow-on effect - Mint was pumping."

Other outlets benefited also as queues saw people abandon their long waits and head for local takeaways and restaurants.

Some, but not many, retail shops opened. Those that did appeared to be doing a good trade.

"That's something we are hoping more retailers will get behind at future events."
Ms Scarrow confirmed the food festival will visit Whanganui monthly, except in January. The next event would be early next month.

Some of your comments from Facebook:

Catherine Hayward:
"A night market would be great especially over summer. I, however, would really like for local food stalls to be allowed to participate which didn't happen this time (with exception of the coffee cart) which is not very local or loyal."

Rose Tahuparae:
"Whanganui pat yourself on the back, it was fantastic - congratulations to those responsible, to the vendors well done, to the people of Whanganui you came out and supported. We are not used to queuing but I had a chance to talk to people I didn't know while waiting, it all adds to the atmosphere."

Jen Jenn:
"My family and I were there at 5, we didn't get our first lot of food until 45mins later! The lines were waaaaaaaay too long. As much as we didn't want to leave, we had to. Other than the long waiting period, my family and I LOVED it, the atmosphere, the entertainment and just the great environment. But please cut the waiting period, it wasn't pleasant when my kids got hungry and then started getting upset, we ended up at Subway!"

Kayla Rei:
"Definitely need more night things like this and more local entertainment like Drones they are an amazing band and completely local. Maybe even think about having the river traders' market in the evening - I would so attend."

Sharyn Wallace:
"There were long queues and the vendors were working hard under the pump but it was good food not crap takeaways, good things take time!" Donna Marie:
"It was a great event. But the waiting time was way too long. Maybe bringing in more food trucks would give more variety and less waiting time."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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