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Wildfoods Festival sign seen from Int flights

Wildfoods Festival sign to be seen from international flights

A giant ‘Hokitika’ sign marking the 14th annual Wildfoods Festival next week will be visible to passengers on international flights from Saturday.

Organisers have had huge local support to build a massive “Hokitika” sign on the beach in the run up to the festival on March 8.

Hokitika is on the Christchurch to Sydney flightpath and the driftwood sign will stand out like a hole in the snow.

More than 21,000 food fans are expected to attend the event and sample the world’s most unusual collection of fear factor-style food.

No other festival in New Zealand gets near the big South Island West Coast event in terms of variety of wild and unusual food. This year’s offerings include bulls’ penises, sheep’s eyes, pig offal, huhu grubs, scorpions, worms, seagull eggs, horse meat and rams' balls, grasshoppers, emu meat, snails, bulls' testicles, whitebait, slugs, ostrich meat, ponga slugs, octopus, eel, worm truffles, paua and crayfish. The Wildfoods Festival is the annual showcase of the West Coast’s traditional pioneering lifestyle. It is regarded as one of the finest events in the country. Just 1800 people attended the first festival in 1990 compared to 20,663 last year.

``The Lonely Planet magazine said the Wildfoods Festival is an event not to miss,’’ festival organiser Mike Keenan said today.

``It has featured in media all around the world including the New York times and Japanese television. This year we have film crews from India and Australia plus journalists from the United Kingdom.’’

Nine of the country’s top chefs will be cooking off for the New Zealand Wildfoods Festival Chef of the Year title. The chefs are required to produce a mouth-watering two-course meal within an hour.

Governor General Dame Sylvia Cartwright will open the festival. New Zealand Tourism chief executive George Hickton and Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt will be attending.

The festival in the greenstone and dairy town of 3300 is the biggest annual event on the West Coast, generating more than $2million for the community.

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