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Triple win turns Wildfoods Festival to Worm Sushi

September 27, 2005

Triple win turns Wildfoods Festival to Worm Sushi

A tasty Worm Sushi concocted from worms harvested from the compost made from the biodegradable cups used at this year’s Hokitika Wildfoods Festival is just one of the exciting new gourmet ideas that organisers are planning for next year’s festival in March 2006.

Organiser Mike Keenan said three major awards associated with the popular Hokitika Wildfoods Festival and won during the past three months have spurred his team to make even more improvements to the unique event that has boosted tourism on the South Island’s West Coast.

The festival won the New Zealand Tourism Industry Award for Innovation in Events, Meetings and Incentives last week and the Public Relations Institute Award for Special Events in July.

Both awards celebrated the “Not Bigger, Just Better” innovations that were made to the 2004 festival.

A third award was for the biodegradable corn paste (PLA) cups that were launched at this year’s festival by manufacturers Vertex Pacific Ltd. The manufacturer won the Coca Cola Amatil NZ Ltd Award for Brand Owners/Retailers at the Packaging Council of New Zealand environmental awards in August.

The “Not Bigger, Just Better” strategy increased prices, reduced attendance from 22,500 to 19,000, communicated a freedom camping and town centre glass ban, and closed the town centre to vehicles for two days. The strategy resulted in a ticket sell-out three weeks before the event and a 150% profit increase for event owner, Westland District Council.

The annual event pumps more than $2 million into the local economy and has become a major tourist attraction on the New Zealand events calendar.

Mr Keenan said, “We are making even more changes for the 17th festival on Saturday, March 11, 2006, including engaging some of New Zealand’s favourite entertainers to please the more sophisticated of our patrons. We are adding more wild foods than ever to tempt the palate - in keeping with our renewed emphasis on the theme ‘Wild about Food’.

“The council is making it easier for families to have plenty of relaxed fun, even when they are outside the main festival site, by banning the drinking of alcohol on Hokitika’s downtown streets and providing plenty of friendly country-style entertainment, including a talent quest.”

Hokitika Wildfoods Festival was also a Tourism Award winner in 2003 when it took out the Innovation in Events Category and the Major Tourism Innovator Award.


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