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Great forecast for big Westland Wildfoods Festival

Great forecast for big Westland Wildfoods Festival this weekend


Superb weather as forecast for this Saturday is expected to help draw a record crowd of more than 21,000 people to the 14th annual Wildfoods Festival in Hokitika.

Sheep’s eyes, watercress pesto ice cream, pig offal, dandelion salad, stir fried scorpion, scorpion lollypops, cricket and worm lollypops and seagull eggs are new on the menu this year.

Saturday’s festival offers arguably the world’s most unusual collection of challenging food. It is not just the biggest show of the year on the West Coast but it is rated one of the finest events in the country. This year’s event will be of major interest following the Fear Factor tv show which has seen contestants struggling to stomach some daring food.

The 90 stalls will feature some of the most daring Fear Factor-style food imaginable including horse meat, rams' balls, grasshoppers, snails, worms, octopus, huhu grubs and sheep testicles. Festival organiser Mike Keenan said if weather forecasts proved correct this weekend’s festival could be in for a record attendance.

``The long range forecast for Saturday looks excellent. We still have some homestay accommodation available and everything else is in place.’’

Nine of the country’s top chefs are also cooking off for the New Zealand wildfoods chef's title. They will be required to produce a mouth-watering two-course meal within an hour. Just 1800 people attended the first festival in 1990 compared to 20,663 at the last event which is seen as a showcase of Westland’s traditional pioneering lifestyle.

The local community has built a giant HOKITIKA sign on the beach made from driftwood which will be visible by passengers on international flights. Hokitika is on the Christchurch to Sydney flightpath.

The March 8 festival has already attracted the attention of the television show Fear Factor. Its Los Angeles producer Rich Brown said he had heard about the West Coast event and they were looking for new ``gross and disgusting’’ new delicacies for their next series. The Lonely Planet magazine said the festival is an event not to be missed. Indian and Australian television crews are filing the event along with other international and national media.

Governor General Dame Sylvia Cartwright will open the festival on Saturday morning. New Zealand Tourism chief executive George Hickton and Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt will also 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 local community.

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