Official numbers for the Wildfoods Festival have confirmed a smaller than usual crowd, with just more than 5880 people.

That equates to an 11 per cent drop in attendance compared to the 6620 turnout last year.

What was initially thought to be a larger number of revellers at the official after-party, headlined by Salmonella Dub, has also now been confirmed as a drop. Totals were 1176 (1264 last year), while a warm-up comedy show held on the Friday night drew just 170 people.

Festival event manager Ashley Cassin said the weather had dampened the numbers but not the spirit.


"Despite the weather we had over 1200 gate sales for the festival on the day, which to us highlights the growing desirability to attend this festival," Cassin said.

Hokitika weather observer Mark Crompton, who had predicted the festival would remain relatively dry, said he had been "too optimistic".

"I knew that Saturday, March 11, would be a difficult day to call because of the finely nuanced situation and was dubious about doing so at all, but I finally succumbed, somewhat against my better judgment, on Wednesday.

"As it transpired, my initial forecasts were too optimistic due in part to my wanting to put the best construction on the indicators for the day due to the enormous amount of time and effort that goes into staging the Wildfoods Festival," Crompton said.

He had not expected the light rain that came overnight on Friday, and likewise did not pick up on the rain resuming mid-afternoon on Wildfoods day.

"The lesson: When forecasting the weather one must totally disregard whatever events are scheduled for the day ... not a day would go by where there's not something on somewhere that could be affected by the weather," Crompton said.

"If Santa's Parade gets rained on or it's pouring down for the garden fete, that's tough.

"The problem is, of course, when one forecasts wet weather for some public events and it turns out to be fine, one gets the blame, not unnaturally, for the low turnout. On the other hand, if one forecasts fine weather and it rains from dawn to dusk, attendees can be somewhat disgruntled."

A contradictory forecast between sun and cloud, rain and dry produced the "undesirable outcome" on the day, Cassin said.

"The 10, seven and five-day forecasts all stated different expectation for Hokitika for Saturday, March 11 between the different forecasting platforms, and as the day wore closer the forecasts changed within their previous predictions on each of the separate platforms, too.

"This is the issue that adversely affected our sales between Monday, March 6 and Friday, March 10.

"To be honest, I am very disappointed an external factor like the weather and its forecasting cost us the growth we expected to see for the festival in 2017, after the positive budgetary and ticketing results shown in 2016.

"Sadly, there are some things you can not control, nor can you control the effects they have on the event," Cassin said.

Meanwhile, Cassin said he believed they had still delivered the "best possible experience and event".

"We played the hand we were dealt."

All three council-led events were received positively by those who attended.

"We have received such positivity from new and returning attendees with comments that the rain didn't affect people's experience."

- Hokitika Guardian