The success of Saturday's It! Bay of Islands Food and Wine Festival — despite the lack of a big-name band to draw the crowds — means future events are likely to follow the same format.

The festival was first held in 2010 to lure visitors to Paihia at Labour Weekend, which was then shoulder season in the Bay. As visitor numbers increased the festival was pushed back to early October.

In the past organisers relied on having at least one high-profile band — headline acts have included Dragon, Supergroove and Dave Dobbyn — as a drawcard, but increasing costs prompted them to pick lesser known acts for the 10th anniversary event.

This year's headline acts were the 1980s-themed Automatics 80s and high-energy acoustic covers band White Chapel Jak, both from Auckland.


Co-organiser Steph Godsiff said 1250 people turned out, down from the peak of about 2000 several years ago, but feedback from many in the audience was that it was ''the best one yet''.

''The atmosphere was great and we had a really good crowd. There were no problems, everyone had a good time.''

Next year they would follow the same format of hiring lesser-known but crowd-pleasing bands to keep the ticket prices down.

Festival regular Al Glover reacts after winning the pie-eating contest. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Festival regular Al Glover reacts after winning the pie-eating contest. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Regular Al Glover, from Auckland, discovered the festival five years ago and has been back every year since with partner Sarah Coutts, usually in a novelty wig and 1980s outfit.

''I just love it. It has the right amount of people, the food's good, the alcohol's good, there's no queues for the portaloos and there's never any trouble,'' he said.

The rest of this year's line-up was Ventura, September Rising, Craig Cave and the Bad Excuse, and Boh Runga.

The Business Paihia event is organised by Blah Blah Marketing with support from The Music Workshop.