Big show fizzles out - for now
Manawatu's annual Fireworks Spectacular has been canned to a chorus of public dismay, but organisers of an alternative event are already stepping up in a bid to save the show.
The sudden decision to cancel the 17th annual Manawatu Fireworks Spectacular at Manfeild Park was announced yesterday after Feilding Promotion, one of a trio of organisers, pulled out because of funding concerns.
The move sparked a show of public disappointment.
Palmerston North resident Kathy Brereton, who has taken her teenage daughter to the show for years, said it had been a safe way for families to experience pyrotechnics.
"There are very few things for people to do as families," she said. "I think that's a real shame, really. It is one of those events that the families look forward to."
Palmerston North's Mary Edney had been looking forward to taking her 7-year-old daughter Rhianna to see the fireworks for the first time.
"I'm really disappointed. I actually wanted to go this year because now my daughter is actually old enough to understand it," she said.
But the show may go on.
Manfeild Park chief executive Heather Verry said she had been approached by an interested event organiser, and Destination Manawatu chief Lance Bickford confirmed his organisation had also fielded inquiries from event management groups interested in rescuing the show.
The Fireworks Spectacular is a volunteer-driven event held at Manfeild for Guy Fawkes Day, put together and funded by the Kairanga Lions Club, Manfeild Park Trust and Feilding Promotion.
Mrs Verry said Manfeild was "keeping the door open" to other organisers interested in managing the show, but with just over a month to go it would be a mammoth task.
"The amount of work that Feilding Promotion does is quite considerable and it was felt that the other two parties would not be able to proceed," she said.
However, the fireworks would return next year, Mrs Verry said.
"It's one of the biggest events in the Manawatu and we have always enjoyed being part of it. It's not over yet. It's certainly something we will maintain."
Feilding Promotion manager Helen Worboys said the decision to snuff out the display had come about after the organisation's requests for extra funding from Manawatu District Council had been repeatedly rejected. A press statement from the organisation signalled other community events could follow suit.
Manawatu Mayor Margaret Kouvelis said Feilding Promotion's decision should be respected. "It's sad that is the direction they have chosen. However, we need to respect their decision and that they are working under constraints. As I have said before, they do have to cut their cloth accordingly.
"They have chosen to prioritise things in this particular way and it appears this time they would not be able to hold the fireworks, as they have said."
In a submission to the district council's draft long-term plan in June, Feilding Promotion had sought to double its council grant from about $160,000 a year to $339,000. At that time Feilding Promotion had hinted of its position.
"If no further funds are negotiated, then Feilding Promotion will drop some areas of work that we have been involved in," its submission stated.
Mrs Kouvelis remained diplomatic in her view of the continuing funding spat between the council and Feilding Promotion.
Editorial, page 9
- © Fairfax NZ News
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