Feral side of Toast festival targeted

Last updated 08:44 18/11/2012
Brent Register
PHIL REID/Dominion Post
SCREENING ENTRY: Inspector Brent Register, of Wairarapa, says 37 staff will be working in two shifts to police today's event.

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Scenes of "feral" Toast Martinborough festivalgoers making drunken nuisances of themselves at last year's Toast were not what organisers or police wanted.

Last year's event was criticised as the worst in seven years by the officer in charge, who warned that police might need to consider carrying batons to combat unruly drunks.

Grossly intoxicated people - especially young women - made for a messy end to proceedings, Sergeant Kevin Basher said.

This year, changes have been made to prevent such scenes, with pre-loading and bottle sales particularly targeted. Cheaper and "more substantial" food will also be made available to drinkers.

Inspector Brent Register, head of Wairarapa police, says 37 staff will be working in two shifts to police today's event.

"We've worked very, very closely with Toast [organisers] this year in order to come up with some preventive measures."

People arriving at Featherston train station or The Square will be met by police and security officers, who will be checking bags for alcohol. All ticketholders will also be screened for signs of drunkenness.

"Those that are deemed intoxicated will be refused entry. They will have the option of going to the standdown tent run by St John to sober up before entry will be given."

Compared with previous years, fewer police will be involved in the morning, with the bulk working later in the day.

"We'll have staff wandering around the 10 vineyards, but we'll be following the crowd, knowing they usually end up at Palliser."

A traffic alcohol group will also be working to nab any drink- drivers.

Mr Register, who has previously enjoyed the event as a festival-goer, is keen to make it a positive experience for others.

"It's a great wine and food festival. We want people to have fun and we want people to be safe. So if anyone is making trouble they will be removed."

Related stories:

Twenty years of Toast Martinborough

Your survival guide to Toast Martinborough

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