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A Dunedin poultry club was "staring down the barrel" of a big financial loss last weekend, as Ashburton flooding meant many birds entered in a national show had to take flight.
Dunedin Poultry, Pigeon and Cage Bird Club junior vice-president Phil Hill said the situation was "heartbreaking" for all involved, including the club, staging its first national bird show.
He announced, shortly before noon last Saturday, that bird fanciers who lived in Canterbury could take their birds away immediately, because of safety issues arising from the red warning weather alert.
By the next day, weather problems slashed the show’s 1500 entries to 750.
The club had earlier expected to make a modest profit from the Forrester Park show, to help the club keep "ticking over".
However, at noon on Saturday, "we were staring down the barrel of a $5000 loss", which could have forced the club’s closure, Mr Hill said earlier this week.
The final financial situation would not be known for another month, but the worst case scenario had not happened, and he believed the club could make a small profit of about $1000.
Despite organisers’ fears, hundreds of people flocked to the "packed" show on both Saturday and Sunday, both days amounting to a record attendance at any show ever staged by the club.
A lot of hard work by club members and helpers, and strong public support meant "it’s been a huge success".
Everyone had rallied round to help, and some bird fanciers had deliberately delayed their departure to strengthen the show’s quality for Dunedin visitors.
A first wave of bird fanciers and birds had left after 1pm on Saturday, and a second wave, including many North Island fanciers, left on Sunday morning.
Some bird fanciers offered to waive any cash prizes they had won, to help organisers withstand the financial shock of losing so many birds from the paid-entry event.
However, Mr Hill said the club aimed for pay for all the prizes.