Judy Muir has spent the past 20 years running the
equalisator betting system at the annual summer holiday
event at the Hawea Flat Domain. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Yesterday marked a changing of the guard at the Hawea
Picnic Races, as volunteer Judy Muir (67) spent the day
training up her successor in order to step aside after 45 years
in the betting booth, 20 of which she spent running the
Monica Urquhart was busy learning the ropes to take over the
''major role'' from Mrs Muir next year, but regular
race-goers will still see the long-serving betting boss
smiling out from the booth windows at the Hawea Flat Domain
for a while yet.
Slideshow: Hawea Picnic Races
''I'm not moving out, I'm just moving over,'' Mrs Muir said.
''I just feel I need a back-up, getting to my delicate age.''
Mrs Muir and her team work to a tight schedule on race day,
with just half an hour between each race.
''It's full on, but at the end of the day, it's so
While conceding she probably had ''an interest'' in horses,
it did not extend beyond her picnic races role.
''I'm scared of them. I like a fence between them and me.''
Mrs Muir's motivation for her lengthy stint at the helm has
''Working voluntarily for the community ... and providing
entertainment for holiday makers at this time of year'', was
the spur, she said.
''We're indebted to the people that travel a long way to
support us at these events.''
Mrs Muir became involved in the event after marrying
long-time local Fred Muir, who has been attending the race
meeting since its inception - ''about 66 years'', he
The couple formerly farmed in Hawea Flat, but have since
semi-retired to Wanaka. Mr Muir is one of the longest-serving
Hawea Picnic Racing Club committee members.
Organisers at yesterday's meeting said numbers appeared to be
down on last year's event, which attracted about 2000 people.
Mr Muir thought the hot, calm weather probably meant many
people had gone boating instead.
All proceeds from the race day are given to Lake Hawea