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Wildfoods - Possible Changes For 2004


Wildfoods - Possible Changes For 2004

Next year's Wildfoods Festival of scorpions, sheep testicles, seagulls, grasshoppers, snails, slugs, worms and huhu grubs may take different shape

After 14 Hokitika Wildfoods Festivals, the event may take a different direction from next year. The14th annual festival of delicious and challenging wildfoods was a huge success yesterday with an estimated record crowd of 23,000 making it the biggest special food festival of its kind in New Zealand.

Festival organiser Mike Keenan said the Westland District Council had commissioned a strategic report on the event to look at the direction it should take in the next five years. Report surveyors were out in force yesterday.

Recommendations from the report to the council are likely to result in changes, even if only minor. Issues relating to the festival appeal, crowd numbers and types of food will be key to the report. The festival is symbolic of pioneering south Westland days and many of the 90 stallholders enter into the spirit of the occasion. Festival-goers also dressed in nun's habit, as cave men and other unusual looking outfits.

As well as daring foods such as bull's penis sausages and huhu grubs, the festival yesterday was also popular yesterday for its whitebait, paua, venison, scallops, wild pork, mussels, lamb, prawns, chamois, seafood, fruit, beef, goat, crfayfish, ostrich, emu, eel and wallaby.

They washed their food down with beer, wine, champagne, coffee, moonshine by drench gun, licquer shots, apple cider and free chilled water from the Red Cross who also gave away sun lotion and hats. Governor General Dame Silvia Cartwright ate a snail from the Hokitika Girl Guides' stall after opening the festival. Former Commonwealth 10,000 metres gold medallist Dick Tayler couldn't resist the whitebait or the grasshoppers.

Thousands of scorpions -- all dead and mostly soaked in vodka -- were in big demand from the best commercial stall. So were the seagull eggs and roasted flappers (baby seagulls).

``It was a great day and everyone had fun,'' Mr Keenan said.

``The Lost Tribe stall, run by Eve and Erez Maya, was fantastic with their hangi-style bread and wild herbs.''

Hundreds of corporate types from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch stood shoulder to shoulder with genuine, hospitable rough-hewn West Coasters as they bathed in burning sunshine with Mt Cook clearly visible in the distance.

The festival drew more than $2 million to the local community. Hokitika, the Westland dairy centre and greenstone capital of New Zealand, has a population of 3300. Despite Westland's arguable reputation for having a wet climate the event was staged in brilliant sunshine. Rain has not been seen at the festival in 14 years.

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