Attendance at Blues, Brews and BBQs at all-time low

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 07:55 04/02/2013
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Despite the sun shining and the temperature reaching almost 28 degrees Celsius on Saturday, the turnout at the 20th Blues, Brews and BBQs festival held at the A&P Showgrounds in Blenheim was at an all-time low.

Festival organiser Graeme Boon said ticket sales had yet to be tallied but he estimated about 2000 people attended the event.

"We were down on numbers," said Mr Boon, who has been involved in the festival since it began in 1994.

"It was definitely the lowest turnout in 20 years."

It was too early to say whether the festival would be put on again next year, he said.

"I can't say until we've gone through everything, which will probably take months."

Despite the low numbers, reports from those who attended had been really positive, he said.

The festival was open to all ages for the first time in the past four years, however most people there were over 18.

"Not that many parents took their children, but it was good they could come along with the kids," Mr Boon said.

Festival-goers enjoyed a variety of beers and food on offer from the 22 stalls, with only a handful of people too drunk to serve near the end of the day.

Lion Breweries sales executive Greg Logan said the location of their Mac's and Speight's stalls next to the stage helped keep the punters coming.

"It was a great day, a good mix of people," he said. "Everyone was pretty merry, there were no real messy ones."

Despite dwindling numbers, the brewery would return to the festival next year.

It was not a commercial decision but a community one, with funds from the Speight's stall going to the Wairau Cricket Club, he said.

The heat didn't stop punters from dancing to the live music, with Wellington band The RatBags and Blenheim band Helter Skelter drawing crowds to the stage area.

Police had an uneventful day compared to past years, arresting just one woman after she bit an officer.

Acting Sergeant Andy Watson, of Blenheim, said police were pleased with revellers' overall behaviour. "Most people acted responsibly and the event was conducted well."

The best leaner award went to longtime attendee Trevor Roughan and his crew who had never missed a blues and brews festival.

Their leaner originated from an old gokart and had undergone a few changes over the years, he said.

Each year it was wheeled from New Renwick Rd to the festival.

"It takes two beers to get down here and none to get back."

Mr Roughan was unaware the turnout was low.

"I didn't think times were that tough that people couldn't afford to come to something like this," he said.

The plastic cups may have influenced people's decision to come, he said. "I know half a dozen mates who won't come because they can't use glass."

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- The Marlborough Express

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