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Downtown drag racing at Queenstown Winter Festival

June 25 2014

Boys will be girls when it comes to downtown drag racing at the 40th American Express Queenstown Winter Festival

The spectacle of sixteen drag queens parading down Queenstown’s iconic Mall during lunch hour today (Wednesday 25 June) will be etched into the memories of many Queenstown visitors after today as prominent business leaders transformed into their alter egos for The Hits 90.4 Drag Race at the 40th American Express Queenstown Winter Festival.

A not so sweet gaggle of sixteen ‘girls’ competed for the title of The Hits 90.4 Drag Queen in the twenty-fourth year that the event has run. Many were past champions, tempted out of retirement for one last sashay across the stage and stumble through the hay bale and hurdle obstacle course for glory.

“No matter which way you looked today, there were crowds watching the colourful and crazy fun that is the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival’s Downtown Day,” said Lisa Buckingham, Festival Manager.

Miss Best Dressed was named as Simon ‘Frank’n’Flirter’ Green from Main Event, Best Kiss came from Scott ‘Wilma Ballsdrop’ Conway from Feast, Miss Personality was Richard ‘Pussy Galore’ Callander from SKYCITY, Miss Friendly was named Brendan ‘Sofonda Koch’ Quill and Miss Photogenic went to Craig ‘The Duchess Fergie’ Ferguson from The Hits 90.4 FM in Queenstown. It was a special day for Lindsay ‘Lulu’ Westaway from Walter Peak Station who celebrated his 69th birthday and won the overall 2014 Drag Queen title.

Always a favourite with American Express Queenstown Winter Festival goers, Queenstown’s Earnslaw Park was packed with a lunchtime crowd for the trio of Downtown Day events – The Hits 90.4 Drag Race, the Cup & Cake Challenge and the QRC Hospitality Race, formerly the Waiters Race.

The Waiters Race and tomorrow’s Embrace the Elements with DB Export Dog Derby are the two events in the programme that have run for the 40 consecutive years of the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival. Teams from Queenstown’s top hotels competed to be crowned the ‘Hosts with the Most’ with the Heritage Hotel ‘Heritage Kamikazes’ claiming the title for 2014.

Earlier in the Cup & Cake Challenge, a twist on the traditional egg and spoon race, competitors raced around an intricate obstacle course while trying to keep their beautifully decorated cupcakes intact before eating the cupcake to win. Brayden Barclay, aged 10, visiting from Auckland was the 2014 winner.

Later tonight Jaimie and Becs’ Winter Kitchen with Queenstown’s hometown culinary heroines will bring some Masterchef flair to winter menus. It’s Blues Night at the Embrace the Elements with DB Export Evening Sessions on the Earnslaw Park main stage on the Queenstown waterfront. For those with the need to move the Jagermeister Silent Disco at 1876 is the perfect nocturnal destination while Wednesday Lates with comedians Urzila Carlson and Bredhan Lovegrove at Vinyl Underground is expected to be raucous after their performance on Tuesday at Comedy Night.

Without doubt the highlight of day seven of the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival is the hugely anticipated DB Export Dog Derby on Coronet Peak. Will Chris Dagg, twenty time contender, finally win? Will any dogs - or owners, be lost off piste?

Following the Derby and a ‘shout’ for all the competitors by DB Export, the Dog Barking competition at Earnslaw Park is likely to raise the main stage’s roof. The Derby starts at 12pm followed by the Barking at 3pm.

To see the full line up of the programme and individual event details check out the complete American Express Queenstown Winter Festival calendar online at or pick up a programme at information outlets throughout the region.

Background to the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival
WINTER STARTS HERE! From 20 June to 29 June, the 2014 American Express Queenstown Winter Festival will celebrate 40 years of winter fun and festivities with 10 days of totally outrageous and uniquely Queenstown events. Join us on Facebook or Twitter, or keep an eye on to be first with the latest news and images of the year’s craziest anniversary bash. Started in 1975, the Festival was born when a group of clever locals thought the arrival of snow was a ‘great excuse for a party’. The group organised races on the mountain and in town, lollies for the kids, beers for the grown-ups, a concert or two and a local ball, all of which were a great success. News quickly spread and over the years it has grown in size and stature to become the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest winter celebration. Now an iconic event cemented on Queenstown’s calendar it attracts 45,000 attendees and injects a whopping $57 million back into the local economy. Despite phenomenal growth, the Festival has stayed true to its roots and is still a Festival by the community, for the community. It has evolved to forge a unique identity as New Zealand’s premier celebration of all things winter and holds a special place in the heart of Queenstowners.


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