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Mayoral Opinion – As published in the Wairarapa Times Age – Tuesday 28 August 2018

Daffodil Festival – bringing the community together

It’s less than two weeks before the iconic Daffodil Festival kicks off for another year.

Each September Carterton starts to prepare for thousands of visitors who flock to the District seeking spring sunshine, family fun, great food and of course, Daffodils!

What is now for many a time-honoured tradition, the festival includes the picking of daffodils at Middlerun, a historic property in Gladstone, and one that is dear to my heart. Owned by cousin Dick Booth, his wife Jenny and managed by their son Grantly, the farm is opened to the public to enjoy a day picking daffodils and creating memories.  The generosity of the family to open the gates each year enables charities like Plunket and St John to fundraise towards their causes. Often raising well over $6000 each year, this has now become one of the charities major fundraising days.

Getting out to the farm is simple. The free Daffodil bus service operates on a loop from Broadway (outside Kings Woodworking) to Middlerun, and offers festival goers a safe and reliable way to get out to the farm from town. No car parking is available out at Middlerun; this is to ensure pedestrian safety, and with the wet weather we have had recently the grass verges are pretty sodden and would make for some messy parking!

So please respect the decision of the organisers and leave the car in town.

I believe that this festival provides many benefits for our District.

Economically, an influx of visitors means spending in our CBD, which is fantastic for our local businesses. The event showcases the superb attributes which Carterton has, and provides opportunities for repeat business, returning visitors and potentially new people to live in our community.  We often hear that the family friendly events which are available in the Carterton District throughout the year contribute to our growing popularity.

The festival also provides an opportunity for local organisations to work together to coordinate the event. This has really positive outcomes. Establishing strong links between the organisations gets these groups engaged and gives a sense ownership back to the community.

Volunteers contribute massively to the smooth running of the festival, and without them we simply could not run events like these. There are many roles to play during the festival and volunteers who generously give up their time mean that organisers can keep everything running smoothly and to budget.

The 2018 festival will include previous year’s highlights, such as the Big WaiArt Sale, Surrey Rides, children’s entertainment, and food stalls all within the CBD; and of course who can forget the remarkable Daffodil Express Train.

Bringing over 500 visitors from Wellington the Daffodil Express attracts thousands of locals as it puffs its way into Carterton Station; for some this is the moment the festival comes to life.

For locals wanting to experience the steam train first hand, there are still tickets available to purchase for the short return trip between Carterton and Masterton via the Carterton Railway Museum website, Take Note Carterton and Kuripuni Bookstore, Queens Street Masterton.

Taking the festival to another level this year will see the inclusion of two new supporting events to encourage residents and visitors to make a whole weekend of it.

On the Saturday evening, Carrington Park will be buzzing with people of all ages as the inaugural Carterton Kite Festival kicks off. There will be spot prizes for the best kite, so I encourage you to get involved and create a wonderful masterpiece! Once you have finished flying your kite, and worked up an appetite, kite flyers will be able to enjoy an evening meal from the Asia and Friends Spring Night Market, located on the basketball court. This is the second of its kind, and after the success of the winter event, the spring offering will be sure to delight!

I cannot thank enough all the people who bring this festival to life! They spend endless hours planning, meeting, coordinating, and developing ideas to make the Carterton Daffodil Festival the now iconic event it is.

All we need to do now is hope that Mother Nature plays her part.

ENDS

Further information:

When: Sunday 9th September

Carterton Daffodil Festival Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/CartertonDaffodilFestival/

Carterton Railway Museum website:

http://www.cartertonrailwaymuseum.org.nz/

Other Daffodil Festival events:

Carterton Kite Festival & Asia and Friends Spring Night Market.