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Variety Fair

The Napkin Diaries
By Paula Pistol

Variety Fair

After a hectic Friday night of yet more Festival bookings, I was glad to head in the opposite direction on Saturday morning. My purse was burning a hole in my second-hand Charles Jourdan handbag, and the Newtown Festival was beckoning.

I arrived in time to see Abba Addiqtion – complete with metallic gold boob tubes, bad wigs and faux Swedish accents - take over the stage from local rockers Cherry. Sat myself outside The Office with a fortifying ale, then the girls arrived and we brunched on butter chicken, sausages on white bread, falafel kebabs and whitebait fritters.

We were treated to Pacific Islands gospel choirs, fledgling local hip-hop complete with breakdancers, and my favourite: the kids’ karaoke stage. There’s just something about nine year old girls singing J-Lo tunes that says better than any fancy academic could just what is wrong with pop music and young people these days.

Gita Mann had an excellent conversation with Michael, a local who has cornered the recycled native timber bread-board market at Kirk’s and Thorndon New World. It started so simply, too: he was wandering the streets of Newtown watching the old villas being renovated, and thought “there must be something I can do with those off-cuts”. A Newtown genius.

The Space, apart from being a venue for some pretty wacky Fringe stuff, does a good line in second-hand books. Sarah Barr bought a Wilbur Smith novel while I headed straight for the Spike Milligan collection. Somebody told me we’re the only country where they still print new copies of Badjelly the Witch. Good on us.

Not wanting to be outdone by the Cuba St Carnival’s night parade, Newtown went one better: the kids from the local school decked out the supermarket’s trolleys and had a trolley derby along Riddiford Street. And even though all the fairground attractions for kids were strategically place right outside McDonald’s, it was marvelous to see the youngsters queuing at the curry stands instead.

We prowled the op-shop and craft stalls, snapping up faux furs and knitted scarves (remember Daylight Saving finishes this weekend), homemade chutneys and native saplings. The Newtown Festival ought really to have a slogan: “Everything you don't really need but simply must have, for under $10”.

Find of the fair was a pair of sexy black Selby heels that Wanda Martini picked up for the grand total of $2 and had re-soled for Plush Bomb.

All in all, it was another bloody excellent day in Newtown. And as another Wellington “summer” comes to a close, I’m sorting out my pantyhose drawer, polishing my St Vincent de Paul heels and drycleaning a rather funky Salvation Army bomber jacket. See you Saturday at the Dans Paleis after that last late sun has set!

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