For the first time in over 40 years, one of the biggest events on the Horowhenua calendar, the Foxton Spring Fling, has had to be cancelled.
The Foxton Tourist & Development Association (FTDA) committee made the difficult decision this month due to the Covid 19 status and the existing level 2 restrictions.
FTDA president David Roache said in a statement the committee had held out as long as possible, but decided it needed to follow government guidelines and the lead of many other events nationwide.
"We are extremely disappointed on behalf of the whole community and local business, as Spring Fling is always a huge day for the local retailers," he said.
Spring Fling co-ordinator Debbie Baker made sure the stallholders who were booked in for the event were among the first to know about the decision.
"For a number of the stallholders, this event provides their major income for the year ... we had 140 already registered and received inquiries from another 15 after the decision to cancel was made," Baker said.
When the Foxton Spring Fling began, it was held on the first Sunday in September and then, more recently, moved to Labour Weekend Sunday.
Roache said the event had evolved from a street parade with floats designed and driven by local groups, schools and playcentres, to an amazing market with over 100 stalls and food trucks, and an average of more than 10,000 people visiting on the day.
"Over the years people come back ... to see what is new in Foxton and reminisce about their memories from [previous] events," he said.
Spring Fling is the major funder event for the Foxton Tourist & Development Association, so making the call to cancel was not an easy decision.
On a positive note, and hoping for a reduction in restrictions, the FTDA committee is actively planning a Merry Main Street event to take place in Foxton's Main St on Sunday, December 12.
"Merry Main Street will bring the best of Spring Fling with the street full of market stalls [as well as] Santa's Grotto, so bring your Christmas shopping list plus the kids [so they can] meet St Nick," said Roache.
Baker said so far about 85 per cent of the Spring Fling stallholders wanted to transfer to the new event in December.
In the meantime, the committee needs to work on the logistics of how the new event will work, especially in regards to checking vaccination passports and monitoring visitor numbers.
"There will most likely be more costs around putting in place any government requirements for major outdoor events," said Baker, "but if we want this market to go ahead, we need to be strategic about it."
For further information about Spring Fling or the Merry Main Street event, email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the Facebook page Foxton SpringFling.