Bachelor boys in demand at ball

Ready to catch the "love train" on Saturday from the Dunedin Railway Station to the Middlemarch...
Ready to catch the "love train" on Saturday from the Dunedin Railway Station to the Middlemarch Singles Ball are, from left, James McCrorie (24), of Ranfurly, Kent McCrorie (25), of Dunedin, John Smith (23), of Hawkes Bay, and Mark Williams (23), of Wanaka. Photo by Craig Baxter.
When the Middlemarch Singles Ball was first held in the Strath Taieri town in 2001, some farmers, fearing they would be ambushed, ran for the hills.

Now, organisers say, those farmers realise how much the town benefits from the event.

More than 800 people, most of them female, arrived in the town for the fifth staging of the two-yearly event on Saturday night.

The much-anticipated ball attracted guests from throughout the country, with some spending up to $400 online to buy the $85 tickets.

Dunedin City Council events team leader Marilyn Anderson said the night, including the train ride to and from Dunedin, went off without a hitch.

The weather was fine, meaning women did not have as much of an issue with sinking heels on the floor of the marquee, and a new room off the side of the main marquee provided a space to talk.

Mrs Anderson said many couples were seen cuddling underneath trees outside the marquee.

Mark Cahill (37), originally of Liverpool but now living in Christchurch, said the night was "fantastic".

He and another friend from Britain had heard about the ball and decided to head down to experience a piece of New Zealand nightlife.

The ages at the ball ranged from "barely over 18" right up to "being able to receive the pension", he said.

As for his luck with the ladies, the single Mr Cahill said there were a couple of "near-misses" but no stories to report.

Leah Hainge (23) went with five friends from Dunedin.

She said they all had a good night out but were a "wee bit disappointed" by the ratio of men to women.

She said you could judge how the night went by the train ride back to Dunedin.

"There were a lot of people asleep on that train."

A small number of "sheepish-looking" men and women took the "train of shame" back to Dunedin at lunchtime yesterday, Mrs Anderson said.

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