For the past five years Whanganui has celebrated Wellington Anniversary Weekend by turning the past in to the present as antique vehicles take to the streets, river and sky. Liz Wylie talks to organisers about plans for next year's event

Whanganui Vintage Weekend 2019 may be nine months away but it is not too early to start thinking about whether you want to be involved and what to wear, says Bruce Jellyman.

Bruce is well known as Brass Whanganui's band leader but some people may not realise he is also chairman of the trust which looks after the overall planning, designing and organisation of Vintage Weekend.

Read more: River City Park up impresses visitors and locals
Have your say: We are so fortunate to live in Whanganui

Advertisement

Along with fellow trustees Keith Smith, Kate Joblin, Annette Main, Rory Smith and event manager Sally Jane Smith, he is already planning ahead for next year's action packed anniversary weekend.

"We really want to get things locked in by September 1," he says.

"The last weeks of the year are always taken up with people planning for Christmas and holidays.

"Next thing you know it is January and Vintage Weekend is upon us."

The trust oversees key events – The Saturday Caboodle and Vintage Fair, the Sunday Shindig and the Monday Soapbox Derby.

While the trust oversees the key events, which are free to attend, many other associated activities are independent and managed by other groups and businesses and Bruce says it is essential that organisers let the trust know what they are planning as early as possible.

"Planning for Vintage Weekend 2019 has begun so if you wish to sponsor, provide or volunteer to help with an event – the earlier you tell us the better."

Bruce said huge thanks are due to Whanganui and Partners, Mainstreet Whanganui, H&A Print, Rivertraders, Whanganui Vintage Car Club, Air Chathams, Mainline Steam, Totalspan, NZME,Magic and MooreFM, The Grand Hotel and other sponsors and organisers for making Vintage Weekend great.

"Thank you Whanganui and visitors for coming out in huge numbers this year.

"The whole weekend had a great vintage vibe," says Bruce.

He does have one gripe, however, and that is the number of people who don't dress for the occasion.

"I think people don't realise that the term 'vintage dress' has a long timeframe.

"You can dress in clothing that spans the period from 1900 right up to 1980."

Men can even turn up in their Stubbies shorts, he says, although he adds that may not be a welcome sight.

"I recommend that people start thinking about their costumes now and think about the vintage look they want to go for."

Wanganui Vintage Car Club chairman Bruce Ardell is a man who likes to wear vintage dress at any time of year.

"I always wear classic attire so it is fine for me but I do encourage our members and visitors to dress up during Vintage Weekend," he says.

"Vintage car drivers have got more in to the dressing up side of things in recent years.

"They might not wear the outfits while they are driving but they like to wear their vintage, formal attire for dinner and they like to dress up during Vintage Weekend."

The annual car rally organised by the club was attracting big crowds to Whanganui every Anniversary Weekend while Heritage Weekend, held in March each year, was not much of a drawcard.

When the Vintage Car Rally brought 35,000 car enthusiasts to the racecourse in Whanganui during Anniversary Weekend in 2012, Whanganui District Council saw the potential for Vintage Weekend.

In 2013, the council underwrote the cost of the first Vintage Weekend to the tune of $100,000 which paid off handsomely and each year sees higher visitor numbers.

Five years on, Bruce Ardell says the Wanganui Vintage Car Club is very happy with the way Vintage Weekend has wrapped around their own event with Wheels on Victoria Saturday and the Sunday Burma Rally being highlights for everyone.

"I have loved vintage cars since I was 12 and I really enjoy seeing how other people appreciate them too," says Bruce.

He owns a number of vintage cars including his beloved 1928 Chevrolet National and he is happy to share his fleet.

"He has some old Morris cars," says Vintage Weekend trustee Annette Main.

"He brought some down to the market during Vintage Weekend when I had my Morris van parked down there.

"They made a really nice show and people loved seeing them."

Annette says she supports Bruce Jellyman's advice for people to get in early and contact the trust if they wish to hold an event next Vintage Weekend.

"It is great to see so many good ideas being generated and we love the variety but it needs to be co-ordinated.

"When people have added independent events that were not on the programme, they have sometimes clashed with the scheduled events.

"If they let us know what they are planning, we can work their events in to the schedule."

Annette says she wonders if the Vintage Costume Competition which is part of the Sunday Shindig might include prize categories for different decades and that might encourage a wider range of attire.

"I did notice that this year there were more 1950s and 1960s outfits and they were really good examples – quite classic."

There were some pillbox hats and vintage handbags in evidence this year and Annette said those are the touches that lend authenticity to costumes.

Vintage Weekend 2018 attracted over 20,000 participants to Whanganui and Bruce Ardell says some motorists made a four-day weekend of it.

"Quite a few vintage car enthusiasts are retired and they don't have to hurry back to work."

Annette Main says the Monday activities have been limited to the Soap Box Derby and Garden Amble because visitors from outside the region did not have a long weekend.

"More people do seem to be staying on each year so it would be good to have some activities for people to attend after the derby."

Anyone wishing to learn more about Vintage Weekend can visit vintageweekend.co.nz, the Vintage Weekend Whanganui Facebook page or contact Bruce Jellyman at bruce.jellyman@gmail.com