Arrowtown Autumn Festival
January 1, 1970
Arrowtown Autumn Festival
Having lived in New Zealand for over 18 months and hearing about the beautiful colours in Arrowtown during autumn, I had to see it. Hearing about the Autumn Festival taking place meant only one thing, I had to see what the fuss was all about. The festival this year was 5 days long with the last day falling on ANZAC day. The festival celebrates the many aspects of Autumn from scarecrows to colours. Along with this street entertainers, a parade and a market to show off New Zealand’s finest in the Autumn weather. The account below documents my experience of the Arrowtown Autumn Festival.
First on the agenda was the kids painting workshop, where for a gold coin donation the children were guided through the process of painting leaves using Indian paint. They were allowed to decorate their leaf shapes with patterns, colours and of course glitter was involved. It was a fantastic workshop allowing the children to have fun and explore various techniques with paint. The afternoon revolved around scarecrows, walking the town looking for scarecrows created and displayed in various places around the village by locals. Buckingham Green was where the children’s scarecrow competition was being held along with street entertainers. Before the start of the competition was a guy going by the name of ‘The Basket Ball Man’, he was spinning basketballs and balancing them on his fingers and onto each other. He was really good and certainly entertained the crowd not only with his tricks but also his jokes and stage presence were on top form, certainly worth checking out if you ever get the opportunity. The children’s scarecrow competition was super cute and the children really had made such and effort, their creativity was fantastic. The scarecrows around the village were equally as interesting to see and gave fantastic photo opportunities to pose alongside them.
Street Entertainment was the theme for the day, street performers everywhere from live bands to jugglers. The Miners band were particularly good as well as ‘Mullet Man’ a juggling street entertainer, children and adults alike laughed with him, cheering and clapping at his tricks. Later that afternoon a workshop was held by Mullet Man allowing children at no cost to learn to juggle. He was fantastic, he even let me give it a go (just for the record I was rubbish!) the children seemed to really be enjoying themselves. As a free workshop it was brilliant, very well worth the trip. Nathan Boner (Mullet Man) was really able to keep the children’s attention and help them progress through each stage of learning to juggle. Due to tired children I was unfortunately unable to look around the art exhibition nor attend the ‘happy hour’ entertainment event. I did however seek to find out if I had missed out, it became apparent that I had…
The main event. Verge after verge was lined with cars it was only 10:20am and already the streets were full. After finding a park and donating a gold coin to enter the area, I happened upon the market naturally I gravitated towards them. It was brilliant, the chance to try multiple varieties of cheeses and chutneys as wells as salami and a wonderful sample of chocolate brownie. There were stalls consisting of art work, clothing, sculptures, jewellery and home furnishings. The atmosphere was super friendly with no pressure to buy. All the stall members were really keen to chat away, it was a fantastic experience, giving the opportunity to try many New Zealand crafts. It’s something I feel everyone in New Zealand should take advantage of and experience. At 1pm, after watching ‘The Basket Ball Man’ again (would appear I like his act!), it was the Lion Dance. A group of young dancers from the Otage Southland Chinese Association, they were really good. Following that it was time to look to the skies for an Aerobatic display, this only lasted 10 minutes which seemed short but all the same it was a great show of loop the loops and free falls. As soon as the display finished it was Arrowtown Festival Parade time. A typical New Zealand parade with classic cars and trucks towing trailers of children advertising their schools and pre schools, the shotover jet towed a boat down the street and there was a steam engine. Of course no New Zealand parade is complete without a tractor. The parade lasted for 40mins, the crowd smiled the whole time with many people waving to those they knew. The rest of the afternoon was spent watching street entertainers, ‘Bike Boy’ that was an act I must get personal about… I was chosen from the crowd (unwillingly) to participate with ‘Bike Boy’ who also decided to pick on the poor man stood next to me (Craig). He asked if we were dating which was a clear no but I suppose it looked funny to the crowd. He got me to stand with another 2 guys (picked randomly from the crowd) asking if I could chose the hottest one of them to ‘protect me’, I ended up lead on the floor between the both of them. The guy then took speed on his BMX and balanced on it juggling knives around us. Another two men then joined to help to hold up a pole with the bike placed on top. He gave me an apple to throw at him, called in the guy next to me to throw the knife and then a young boy to throw a baton. Before we threw them up he told the guy next to me to kiss me on the cheek and spread the love… After much persistence from ‘Bike Boy’ the guy actually did! Then came crunch time, anyone who knows me knows I really can not throw to save my life but surprisingly I threw well, with force in fact so much so he commented on it. The act commenced with ‘Bike Boy’ stood balanced on the BMX on top of the pole juggling a knife, baton and an apple, which he ate as he juggled them, it was impressive and a good end to the day.
Sunday saw the avid gold planners take to the river for the New Zealand Gold Panning Championships. The village itself was relatively quiet compared with the previous day. Only one busker was around on the streets, he was the man making balloon animals for children. He created a penguin which looked incredible and was done so quickly. The pie, pint and Pinot event sold out by 1:30pm with over 1000 people in attendance to try out the many craft beers, gourmet pies and selected pilots on offer. It was a family friendly event with live entertainment from the buskers. Lets also not forget the branded pint or wine glass with the autumn festival logo on it as a freebie with your ticket.
Anzac Day saw good turn out to the service and parade, it was a moving experience. A great way to end an awesome festival weekend. A weekend enjoyed with friends and family, both locals and tourists alike.
So there it was the Arrowtown Autumn Festival through my eyes, a worth while experience. Great atmosphere, super friendly with something for everyone to experience and participate in. Being set in such wonderful surroundings with the most beautiful Autumn colours displayed in the trees on the mountainside as a backdrop really does set the scene. What I’m trying to say is an Autumn in New Zealand is well worth being spent at the Arrowtown Autumn Festival, but who and I to judge? Experience for yourself.
A big thank you to Craig Jennings for supplying photos of the beautiful colours. (He’s the guy who kissed me on the cheek during Bike Boy’s street performance!!) Check out his work here.