Taihape's annual day of fun got off to a solemn start on Saturday with one minute of silence to honour victims of the March 15 Christchurch mosque shootings.
"It was the first large gathering in Taihape since the tragedy occurred and we wanted to pay respect," said organiser Eva George.

"Rangitikei mayor Andy Watson spoke first and led the vigil and he did a brilliant job."
George said Gumboot Day, held at Memorial Park in Taihape attracted about 4000 people, the biggest crowd the town had seen in recent years.

"My hope was it would be a perfect family day where children were free to run around and enjoy all the fun activities while their parents could relax and enjoy the great food and sunshine. "It could not have been more perfect," she said.

One of the highlights for the children was a Royal New Zealand Air Force helicopter and they delighted in getting a close look and talk to the pilot.

Advertisement

Alongside the light-hearted tossing of rubber footwear and other fun contests were the serious international contenders in the Skellerup World Boot Throwing Championships, held over Saturday and Sunday.
Taihape's own world champion thrower, Elizabeth Mortland, who is also the International Boot-Throwing Association president, won a silver medal this year. She enjoyed a celebratory brunch with a group of German and Finnish competitors on Monday.

"Two of the German throwers have been to Taihape eight times now since they first came out to Gumboot Day in 2010," she said.

She it was probably no surprise that Taihape kids cleaned up in the youth categories on Saturday, although Owen George, of Waiouru, was first among the 10 to 11-year-olds.
Eeva Isokorpi, of Finland, won the open women's category with a throw of 37.58m, and Kieran Fowler, of Dunedin, won the open men's with a throw of 46.80m. A team of mixed international visitors produced the longest throw, 187.82m, but as it was not an official national team it was not eligible to take out the national title. New Zealand won this with an official throw of 165.4m.

Contests that have proved popular in previous years received record entry numbers this year, and included spectacular entries in the decorated cake and gumboot competitions, said George.
A new Fred Dagg look-alike challenge open to contestants of any age and gender.
Since it began in 1985, Gumboot Day has earned Taihape the title of "gumboot capital of the world."