Festival 'ratbags' to face own music

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 31/12/2013

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A few showers and a handful of "local ratbags" haven't come close to dampening the atmosphere of Gisborne's annual Rhythm and Vines festival.

The three-day festival, which includes more than 100 acts, kicked off on Sunday and has attracted about 20,000 people to the city.

Event spokeswoman Julie Warmington said Gisborne had missed the heavy rain that hit Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty.

"We were forecast to have rain all three days. It drizzled a bit on Sunday morning but cleared in the afternoon and it's looking like it will be fine for the rest of the festival."

She said the crowd was down on the 30,000 of last year, most probably due to competing events, including the South Island's Rhythm and Alps festival, which was started by Rhythm and Vines organisers three years ago.

Senior Sergeant Maui Aben said a group of "local ratbags" had been arrested on Sunday for stealing from tents and cars. "We've managed to pick them off and get them out of the way."

Eleven locals facing charges were in custody and due to go before a justice of the peace today. Police would oppose bail, he said.

Drivers had been well behaved on the whole, with locals the main drink-driving offenders. "It's clear from the checkpoints that drivers are well aware of their responsibilities and have sober drivers organised."

Mr Aben, who was working on his sixth Rhythm and Vines event, said behaviour had improved over the years and there was an awareness by organisers and the community that the event was important for the region.

"This is not just about these events. It's about Gisborne itself. We want people going away with a good impression, and wanting to come back."

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- The Dominion Post

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