Festival on track as reins change

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 13/12/2013

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Palmerston North's Square Affair Easter retro festival is pausing for breath next year as a more racy theme moves in.

After three years, Destination Manawatu has stepped back from managing the event, and is encouraging the formation of a trust to take over from 2015.

Meanwhile, the Manawatu Racing Club, which this year hooked on to the event with a retro theme at the races, will keep the event alive as it works toward something bigger in 2015.

Destination chief executive Lance Bickford said it was the organisation's role to help set up new events, but not to continue managing them.

He hoped the trust would develop the event into something bigger that would be hosted every second year.

"We also need to look at the timing, as the shops are closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, so the retailers don't get the full benefit then."

Racing club committee member Brendan Hapeta said the retro theme would continue to be a part of the festivities around the Sires Produce race meeting at Awapuni at the end of March next year.

The year after that, he wanted to see the race meeting become a focus for bigger celebrations in central Palmerston North.

"We will partner up with Destination Manawatu to raise the profile of racing in the city."

Racing club member and city councillor Adrian Broad said he was impatient to see results.

"Group One racing at Awapuni attracts people to the city. They spend money at the races, on accommodation, and in town, and we need to get together to look at ways the community can be more involved.

"We need to work harder to promote these big events, and foster the relationship between the city and the race course."

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- Manawatu Standard

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