Police praise a trouble-free festival

KAT DUGGAN
Last updated 06:57 10/02/2014
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Police have praised organisers of the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival after a trouble-free weekend.

Despite the 8000 people at the event in Fairhall on Saturday, there were only a handful of arrests over the weekend. No arrests were made at the festival.

Marlborough district area commander, Inspector Simon Feltham, said the R18 rule and the bigger focus on food had improved the tone of the event, with only a few isolated cases of people being heavily intoxicated.

Seven arrests were made in Blenheim on Saturday night following the event. Most were for low level behaviour offences.

"Staff that have worked over the last 10-15 years noticed a change in the atmosphere, it has been much more positive," Mr Feltham said.

Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens said he was "really, really pleased" with how the festival went.

The committee had tried to make changes over the past two years to put a greater focus on the food as well as the wine, he said.

Saturday reflected the hard work of the committee, and they would continue to push the music and food elements for future festivals, he said. "We're on the right path."

Wet weather on Friday night had organisers worried, but the sun came out, keeping up the festival's sunny reputation and attracting a sellout crowd, Mr Pickens said.

Entertainment at the festival kept people on their feet, but it was the New Zealand Army Band who stole the show, with festival-goers raving about their performance.

British couple Ian Woodcock and Trish Hopkins opted to head to the festival instead of the Wellington IRB Sevens and were pleased with their decision. "We're enjoying all the wine and all the food . . . we've seen it [the festival] advertised all over the world so it was a must," Mr Woodcock said.

Marlborough woman Jade Lee said it was great to see people in such good spirits.

"I think it's been a fantastic day and the weather came out, and people are being really friendly, the lines haven't been too big, and the fashion, people are really stepping it up this year," she said.

Police were disappointed, however, by the number of people caught drink-driving, Mr Feltham said.

The Tasman Traffic Alcohol Group processed five drivers on Saturday, one of them at a checkpoint just outside the event.

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- The Marlborough Express

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