Heat takes toll on crowd at Gibbston

Canadian Alanis Morisette proved popular at the annual Gibbston Summer Concert on Saturday. Photo...
Canadian Alanis Morisette proved popular at the annual Gibbston Summer Concert on Saturday. Photo: Tracey Roxburgh
While Gibbston Summer Concert organisers  hailed Saturday’s event a success, many concert-goers felt there was room for  improvement.

The official crowd count was 18,000 - 2000  more than last year’s event - and some felt it had been over-sold.

Traffic moved slowly throughout the morning and early afternoon as people made their way to the concert site to watch Fairground Saints, Colin Hay, of Men at Work, Alanis Morissette - who played an acoustic set - and headline act The Orchestra, starring former members of Electric Light Orchestra.

The Otago Daily Times understands bars on site ran out of cider about 2.30pm and there was a long queue for free water  from two water tankers on site. Space was at a premium in front of the main stage, with many having to head up a steep incline behind the corporate tents to find a spot to sit for the day.

Concert-goer Simon Watt, in an email to the ODT, was unimpressed.

"A lot of concert-goers had no view at all [and] a lot more had to climb steep inclines for a tiny viewing perch.

"I’m 48 and tried to make the most of my awful mountain goat-like viewing location, but I saw 60- and 70-year-olds trying to navigate the same inclines and it just made me angry."

Shady spots were at a premium - and people crowded under two trees at opposite ends of the site, lined up under big screens and against security railings trying to escape the sun and get some relief in the sweltering 33degC heat.

The majority of concert-goers were wearing hats, some had umbrellas and others had put up small tents to try to shield themselves from the sun, and were taking advantage of the complimentary sunscreen, but those spoken to by the ODT, without exception, felt more shaded areas needed to be provided by concert organisers.

The ODT understands medical tents operated by ProMed  were kept busy dealing with people  overcome by the heat. ProMed could not be reached for comment yesterday.

As the day wore on, several people were seen struggling to walk and being supported by others as they succumbed to the unrelenting sun. A  woman seen by the main entrance  at 5pm was unable to stand at all.

Concert marketing and PR manager Hayden Dickason  said he was "not aware" of any issues with concert-goers suffering from heat stroke-like symptoms and didn’t have any information on the number of people assisted by medical staff.

"But, of course, that’s what we’ve got it there for, for anyone that needs assistance."

Mr Dickason said overall the concert was "really successful".

"All of the artists had a wonderful time. They really enjoyed the crowd  - it was fantastic."

He said organisers had no issues "whatsoever" with intoxicated patrons and believed 18,000 was the "right number" for the concert.

"That’s what we’re consented for ...  I don’t think it was too much of a squeeze for anyone.

"The whole Gibbston Valley venue there is really great, because it’s so wide ...  which means everyone gets a great view."

Senior Sergeant Gavin Briggs said there were no arrests at the event.  About 1500 cars were stopped at the drink-drive checkpoint at the car park and three drivers were processed for drink-driving.

"This is obviously very disappointing, given the police presence at the event and the regularity of police conducting such a checkpoint at this event previously," he said.

Overall, the police were "generally pleased" with the crowd behaviour. Given the tinder-dry conditions in Wakatipu at present, smokers in the crowd were directed to smoking areas.

Rural fire officer Jamie Cowan said a helicopter with a full monsoon bucket was on stand-by at the site, along with  volunteer firefighters with extinguishers and water.

tracey.roxburgh@odt.co.nz

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