Small towns at heart of cavalcade

Chris Thompson (left), of Wanaka, Fleur Sullivan, of Moeraki, Magic, Deirdre Mackenzie, of...
Chris Thompson (left), of Wanaka, Fleur Sullivan, of Moeraki, Magic, Deirdre Mackenzie, of Alexandra and Trevor Sutherland, of Central Otago, four of those responsible for the first Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust Cavalcade in 1991, celebrate at Cromwell yesterday. Photo by Sarah Marquet.
Fleur Sullivan, whose idea began the Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust Cavalcade in 1991, said it was always about more than just a horse trek.

She said her idea was to encourage people, tourists as well as New Zealanders, to travel further off the main tourist route and see "the real New Zealand".

She thought it sad that small towns such as Clyde, St Bathans and Naseby with the orchards and gold-mining history were declining to the point of disappearing.

"Those were the towns that established New Zealand. They were where the wealth came from and all those small towns had beautiful old buildings that [at the time] could be pulled down ... the physical history was in danger of disappearing."

Then, after talking to some old gold miners, she got an idea to draw people into the area and show off some of Otago's unique history by retracing the steps of the pioneering miners.

With help from the likes of Chris Thompson, Trevor Sutherland, Roberta Laraman and Deirdre Mackenzie, the first cavalcade was a success.

"I was overwhelmed with the response ... it was filled in no time. I was overjoyed and a little worried. It was quite daunting," Ms Sullivan said.

She said about 220 people took part in that first cavalcade, trekking from Rocklands Station, through the Maniototo towards Cromwell.

But it wasn't just the area that the cavalcade promoted.

"It's good for the [equine] industry, it's good for Otago and it's good for making money go around," Ms Sullivan said.

She said it created huge business for the likes of farriers, stock agents and anything "horsey".

As well, it gave local groups such as schools and Lions groups a great outlet for fundraising. They catered the trails.

"The Lions, for example, make $8000 from a cavalcade ...

one year Ophir preschool managed to re-roof with funds from catering," Ms Sullivan said.

For their efforts, Ms Sullivan and the others were honoured by being asked to lead the grand parade of the 20th Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust cavalcade, about 500 people, on horses, wagons or on foot from the 13 different trails, through the Cromwell Racecourse yesterday.

Ms Sullivan said it was "very satisfying to be out there".

Cavalcade co-ordinator Terry Davis said he was delighted with how the week had gone, although this year had been a challenging one for those taking part in the cavalcade because of the weather.

The conclusion of the cavalcade was marked with a grand parade and a country fair, with market stalls, food and nonstop entertainment from 10am, then a hoedown in the evening.

Host Town Committee chairman Cliff Crawford said they had been planning the day for about a year and he was pleased with the turnout of about 3000 people.

sarah.marquet@odt.co.nz

 

 

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