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Whitebait Festival “All Go” for the Weekend

Media release: Monday, 15 October 2012


Whitebait Festival “All Go” for the Weekend

With less than a week to go, preparations are well underway for Christchurch’s newest festival, the Great West Coast Whitebait Festival, to be held this weekend in Cranmer Square.

Organised by the team behind the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, this Saturday’s event is a celebration of ‘all things whitebait and West Coast’, says Westland District Council marketing manager Sonya Matthews. “When we first tabled the idea of a whitebait festival, our aim was to create an event that wasn’t your typical wine and food festival,” says Sonya.

“So as well as the wriggly white gold that is ‘West Coast Whitebait’, there will also be a range of other gourmet delicacies, including lamb ribs, greenshell mussels, venison, smoked pork, escargot, Asian fusion dishes, and New Zealand’s own Whitestone cheese platters; sweet treats, such as churros, crepes, and French beignets; and a drop or two from Monteith’s, Tohu Wines and Yealands Estate.

“There really is something to suit everyone’s tastes – and with entertainment planned throughout the day, including chef demonstrations and cheeky performances by the Court Jesters – it promises to be a great start to the Labour Weekend.”

A live auction will also take place on-site from 3pm, with all proceeds going to the Rebuild Christchurch fund. As well as the requisite “couple of kilos” of whitebait, there are family packs of Skellerup Red Band Gumboots, Swanndri items, bottles of wine from Yealand Estate and Tohu Wines, and travel packages to various South Island destinations, as well as festival aprons, t-shirts and tea-towels. There are also the festival’s official whitebait wheels – a classic 1959 Series Two Land Rover – as well as 200 hay bales on offer for a lucky punter (the festival ‘furniture’).

In addition, there are a number of spot prizes up for grabs – some valued at over $1000 – as well as cash prizes of $500 for ‘Best Dressed’, ‘Mr and Mrs Whitebait Legs’, and the Gumboot Throw competition winners.

Sonya says the preparations are “all go” for the weekend event. “This event is really a collaboration of the East and West Coast,” says Sonya. “We’ve got whitebaiters from as far away as Haast readying the nets to catch over 200kg of whitebait; dozens of eggs are being collected for over 6,000 patties; Gary McCormick, Jim Hopkins and Joe Bennett are sharpening their wit for the Great Bait Debate; and all the while, we are putting marquees up in Cranmer Square. I’ve also just sampled some of the mouth-watering dishes on the menu from demonstration chef, Phillip Kraal – he’s an expert at delivering a unique flavoursome twist on a traditional favourite.”

The inaugural Great West Coast Whitebait Festival will be held from 10am – 5.30pm on Saturday 20 October 2012 at Cranmer Square in Christchurch. Tickets to the event are on sale from www.whitebaitfest.co.nz or Dash Tickets, and can be purchased at the gate on the day for $27.

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