Date set for next Wildfoods Fest, contingency in place

Festival-goers at a previous event. Photo: Greymouth Star
Festival-goers at a previous Wildfoods Festival. Photo: Greymouth Star
A date for the 2021 Hokitika Wildfoods Festival has been "locked and loaded", but organisers have also planned ahead for a Covid-19 contingency.

Despite the fact New Zealand's first case of Covid was announced a week before this year's Wildfoods, the festival still drew a crowd of about 7000 to Cass Square on March 7. Eighteen days later the country went into lockdown.

Destination Westland chief executive Melanie Anderson said they were forging ahead with planning for the next festival.

"We have got our date of March 13 locked and loaded ... but we are also looking at alternative dates should we need to shift."

Applications for a festival co-ordinator also closed on Friday.

Mrs Anderson said the calibre of applicants for the fixed-term position was "impressive". The job was advertised with an immediate start and drew interest from around the West Coast and away, Mrs Anderson said.

Staff had also fielded a "huge amount of interest" from entertainers wanting to perform at Wildfoods in 2021.

"From an entertainment perspective we have had a huge amount of interest of national talent wanting to perform."

A well-known headline act could again be expected for 2021, alongside home-gown talent, she said.

Meanwhile, stallholder fees will be reduced next year, making it more affordable for community groups especially.

"(Wildfoods) is a really important fundraiser for the community and if we can assist by lowering stallholder fees then that's something we can do."

The fee change had been made as a result of feedback, but the ongoing impact of Covid-19 had emphasised the decision.

The 2021 festival will be the third run by Destination Westland after the council-owned subsidiary took over the reins for the Westland District Council in time for the 30th anniversary.

Mrs Anderson said they had "learned a lot" since then.

Around New Zealand the Wildfoods Festival was synonymous with the West Coast, however every year it was ultimately judged on its financial result.

The 2019 festival returned a $20,000 surplus, and this year's festival broke even.

On the national events calendar, the 2021 Wildfoods is sandwiched between Canterbury's popular New Zealand music gig Selwyn Sounds on March 6, and Nelson's craft beer festival, Marchfest, on March 20.

- Janna Sherman of the Hokitika Guardian

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