Kāpiti Food Fair 2020 Wraps
The Kāpiti Food Fair hosted an amazing day out, once again, for visitors to the Kāpiti Coast and locals alike on Saturday 5 December. Although the weather was overcast and cool, fairgoers were excited as they visited bustling vendors to purchase Christmas gifts, and everyone was eating & drinking until their hearts – and stomachs – were content, and with many thanks to the Coastella and Zeal stages, our visitors were also dancing in the aisles.
“It was wonderful to see so many folks come out for the day,” said Helene Judge, co-owner of the Kāpiti Food Fair. “Our free kids zone with Kapiti Castles and Daizy Design Face Painting rocked all day long, and we had many visitors bring their crowd-friendly dogs too, adding to the family fun feeling we wanted to curate. We made sure to pack in as much entertainment as we could with Coastella and Zeal stages, so we also had the Colossal Wellington Junior Circus buskers on hand and the Richter City Rebels did an awesome roaming stint around the Fair. We did, however, feel the impact of the weather, as did the Tuatara Bar, who saw a downturn this year when compared to 2019. However, we also felt reverberations from the Downtown Shakedown event in Wellington.”
In the year that introduced the world to COVID, the Kāpiti Food Fair navigated the waters of different alert levels, as well as applied for additional funding, to make sure the Fair could roll on again in 2020. While the additional funding from the Major Events Fund and the Domestic Events Fund helped the Fair to further share their message and promote their event, the Fair did see a decline with the turnout of visitors coming in at 12,000+ for the day.
“Looking at our data, our visitor breakdown was 62% from Kāpiti with 38% from other places like Wellington, Horowhenua, Manawatu, Whanganui, Wairarapa, and we noted 3% came from further away places, like Auckland, Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki and even Dunedin,” said Fair co-owner Jeanine van Kradenburg. “While this is a good sign of our vision for the Fair to be a destination event that makes a lasting impression in the minds and bodies of all foodies, sadly, we did not make enough visitor income to cover our costs. Kāpiti Food Fair is a major event now that has in excess of $165K expenses each year. This means, 2021 will be starting with this loss that is being covered by a loan, and with the potential of needing to scale back unless we can secure more sponsorship income.”
Other hurdles on the day came from a grass fire on the southbound lane of the highway in Paremata affecting travellers going both North and South, the lane changeover roadworks that took place North on SH1 near McKays Crossing, and buses acting as train replacements, all adding to the hugely congested roads coming into Kāpiti. However, despite all of these obstacles, vendors reported excellent sales with visitor engagement and spending on gifts or stocking up for their own needs was super high.
“We have had many vendors ask to book in now for 2021 so they don’t miss out,” shared Helene. “Our vendors, like our visitors, are important to us as we curate this group each year to make sure there is a vast range of ready to eat and packaged product for visitors to browse, taste and buy. To help us make each Fair even better than the last, we conduct two surveys at the wrap of the Fair – one for our visitors and the other for vendors. While we are still waiting for the results of both of these to come in, we’ve already noted many comments from vendors thanking us for the wonderful experience they had, complimenting the team and all of our volunteers on site who helped all day long, and who were thrilled with the turnout.”
The range of vendors for 2020 was vast, with both packaged and ready-to-eat vendors on site for visitors. With the Fair being a pre-Christmas event, an opportunity is provided for vendors to package their products for visitors to sample, buy gifts or to stock-up their pantry at home. Previous Fairs have attracted artisan and commercial products including a large variety of ready to eat foods with every vendor adding to a positive visitor experience and 2020 was no exception to this.
The packaged themes for this year saw stalls offering anything from chocolates, sweets, fudge and candy apples, to dips, spreads, nut butters, olive oil, edible flowers, fruit and veg, pet treats and so much more. The ready-to-eat themes were a United Nations of deliciousness with Malaysian, Argentinean, Jamaican, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Turkish, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, South African, China, Thailand, Cambodia and even Egypt and Uzbekistan being represented. All of this plus gelato, ice cream, coffee, burgers and much more.
The Fair is on a three-year mission to divert all waste from the landfill. The enthusiastic crew from Organic Wealth and the volunteers from No 49 Squadron Air Cadets did an amazing job of sorting waste all day long. Vendors were also on-board with our mission as they were asked to only bring packaging that could be composted or recycled so our landfill footprint was low. The great news is, we achieved 80% diversion which can be broken down into 49% going to compost, 31% being recycled and 20% going to landfill.
Wrapping the 2020 Kāpiti Food Fair, Helene and Jeanine are already looking ahead to 2021 and what they want, and have, to do to make it happen once again. The Fair is one of Kāpiti’s largest annual events with vendors flocking to participate from all over New Zealand to engage with thousands of local, regional and national visitors from around the country.
“Being able to deliver the Fair in a COVID filled year has been quite extraordinary,” said Helene. “It’s been an enormous and exhausting workload with huge risk, and more people, and much more money was needed to deliver the Fair this year. 2020 was also the first year since inception in 2008 where we experienced notable adverse weather conditions and issues beyond our control like roading and transportation and a corporate promoter running a large event in Wellington on the same day as the Fair.”
“Putting all of this aside, the day was massive and amazing, and we thank everyone who helped to bring the Fair to a reality, and we look forward to a rest before starting the hard mahi to deliver the Fair again on Saturday 4 December 2021. Mere Kirihimete and happy holidays from the Kāpiti Food Fair, and we wish you all a good rest and we sincerely hope you can be kind, eat pav, drink bubbles and celebrate the tumultuous year that we have all experienced together with your loved ones. See you in 2021, kia kaha Kāpiti and all of New Zealand.”