Martinborough fair kicks off

Thousands flock to Wairarapa wine village

Last updated 15:58 01/02/2014

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Friends lounged in the sun, families snacked on grassy verges and bargain hunters' eyes lit up as Martinborough's annual fair lifted off this morning.

In the first part of a trifecta of diverse but complimentary events in Wairarapa today, the fair enjoyed a sunny, busy start.

"This is our tradition - every year we come and sit on this couch with bubbles," said Heidi Eales, who with friends Tanja Wyllie and Leah Gamboni, all from Upper Hutt, were enjoying their favourite spot on the edge of Memorial Square this morning.

"We saw the other people vacating it and we made a mad dash," said Ms Wyllie.

"It's our morning tea," Ms Gamboni explained, adding they have been coming to the Fair for about 15 years.

About 25,000 people are expected to throng the quaint streets radiating out of the Union Jack-styled town square for the first of two annual fair days, held since 1977 on the first Saturdays of February and March in the historic Wairarapa wine village.

Kim Rankin and Sharon Toms are neighbours and with Ms Rankin's pet dog Kesha they were each enjoying the day in their own ways, they said.

"This is awesome - I've fundraised heaps of money for the SPCA and it's not even halfway through the day," said Ms Rankin, shaking her collection bucket.

"I'm just shopping - well, supporting the local community is a better way to put it," smiled her friend.

Martinborough's Caroline and Simon Wills, with children Ebony, 7, Clayton, 5, and Felicity, 8, were taking a break to eat some chips on the grassy edge of Memorial Square. Clayton was impressed with a rocking motorbike he'd seen, Ebony liked "lots of things" while her sister Felicity felt the best bit was "the chips". Their mother Caroline said the fair was good for Martinborough: "It's a really happening little town and this is one of the things that helps keep it on the map."

Each year about 450 small businesses and craftspeople bid for a stall to offer their wares at the fair, run by the South Wairarapa Rotary Club, which uses funds raised to support community projects in the district.

With the fair getting into its stride by mid-morning, stall holders were doing a roaring trade. Marilyn Couper of Lower Hutt has been selling hand-crafted ceramic hearts at the fair, aided by her friend Heather Mawby, for seven years and said she loved the experience. "Martinborough's just amazing, the people you see; and the organisation's good." 

"Hooked on Hearts" customers Alley Vause, her mother Andrea Vause and her friend Hayley Simonsen said they generally made a "girls' day out" of the fair, which was even better than usual this year. "There seems to be more range and variety," said Ms Simonsen.

Alley Vause, a Vancouver-based nurse, was flying back to Canada tomorrow, but said otherwise would have taken in the third part of today's trio of big Wairarapa events, a concert by Pink Floyd tribute band Eclipse at Stonehenge Aotearoa, near Carterton, this evening.

The second part of the trifecta is the Super 15 pre-season clash between the Hurricanes and Blues at Masterton's Memorial Park this afternoon.

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- The Dominion Post

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