Heat, hats, and happy crowd

20:35, Feb 10 2013
Wine festival
Home time: Grabbing a bus back to Blenheim
Wine festival 91
Waiting for a ride at 6pm closing time.
Wine festival 89
6pm, leaving the festival in a happy mood
wine festival 86
Happy crowds
Marisco
Enjoying The Ned and Marisco wines
Astrolabe
Astrolabe and Seresin Wines
Natalie MacDonald and Laura Scott
Natalie MacDonald and Laura Scott
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Police keep an eye on the crowd
Wine Festival
Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra entertained the large crowd
The Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra
The Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra
Lee Davis
Lee Davis gets a good cooling off from the scorching heat
Spy Valley
Spy Valley Wines
Mary Leslie
Mary Leslie, Kate Harper, Andrea Forrest outside the Greywacke and Dog Point wines tents.
Dog Point Wines
Tohu Wines
Jackson Estate Wines
Jackson Estate Wines
Olivia Klein and Carla Runge
Olivia Klein and Carla Runge eating a Hungarian bread.
Brett Taylor
Brett Taylor, Anton James, Michelle James, Maree Taylor.
Wine Festival 63
Cooling time in the creek
Avalanche City
Avalanche City playing their set.
Avalanche City
Dancing to Avalanche City
Jason Yank
Winners of the best site : Astrolabe with Jason Yank, Jane Forrest and Simon Waghorn
Beck Hill
Supreme wine and food match went to Beck Hill from Figaro's Cafe and Stephanie MacIntyre from Cloudy Bay Wines. Presented by Chelsea Winter
Wine Festival 48
People come from all over the world to attend the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival
John Susman
John Susman serving up some tasty, fresh Cloudy Bay Clams to Kathryn Ulma from Alberta, Canada.
New Entrants band
New Entrants band
Loth Chrisiani and Philippe Pop
Loth Chrisiani and Philippe Pop keeping cool
Kalita Cresswell and Anders Petersen
Kalita Cresswell tops up, Anders Petersen
Hunters Wines
Keeping cool outside Hunters Wines
marlborough Security Officers
marlborough Security Officers: Tasi and Epati.
Scott Hutchison and Hannah McCabe
Scott Hutchison and Hannah McCabe
Penny Edwards
Penny Edwards from Omega Seafood serving Paella.
Ollie Barnett and Bec Pilcher
Ollie Barnett and Bec Pilcher
Andrew Maxwell and Anna Maxwell
Fashion in the vines competition winners, brother and sister Andrew Maxwell and Anna Maxwell
Andrew Maxwell
Andrew Maxwell
Fashion in the vines competition.
Fashion in the vines competition.
Wine tutorial
Wine tutorial
Peter and Denise Bush
Peter and Denise Bush
No 1 Family Vineyard.
No 1 Family Vineyard.
Paul Goodman and Gaynor Arthur
Paul Goodman and Gaynor Arthur enjoying whitebait at their 15th festival
Al Brown
Al Brown and Cloudy Bay Clams cooking demonstration
Al Brown
Al Brown and Cloudy Bay Clams cooking demonstration
Carmen Potgieter
Carmen Potgieter from Auckland for her first Marlborough Wine and Food Festival.

Where did all those people come from?

Everyone was crammed in among the vines on Saturday for the annual Marlborough Wine and Food Festival. And they all seemed to have a great time.

Other than a rugby match, I can't remember the last time I saw so many people in one place, especially the huge number of under-30s. Don't usually see them around, but from a show of hands in the crowd at one stage it seemed a fair chunk were visitors. There were enough oldies there that I didn't feel out of place, though.

This was my first time at the festival and I had no idea what to expect. Nothing I've been to before prepared me for the scale of the set-out, with wine and food stalls surrounding the venue, looking down into the central area with the shade tent, the stage, and the huge open area packed with people.

The wineries had gone to huge effort to make their tents something special, with lounging areas, big bars, and matching outfits, such as everyone on the Saint Clair booth wearing mock clerical garb.

The standard of dress among the crowd was also remarkably high, particularly the young women, but apparently that's because anyone who enters the fashion in the field competition gets in for nothing.

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Hats were part of the gear for most people and one of the women in the Wellington Ukulele Orchestra congratulated the crowd for wearing hats to keep off the rays.

It was so hot. The temperature must have been in the high 20s and there wasn't much wind. The pond along one side of the ground was being well used by people to cool off. Most paddled in it, but I saw more than one going in for a plunge. Mighty brave of them considering the water was muddy brown with all the people wading through.

It was a happy crowd, obviously relaxed by the heat, the wine, and the atmosphere. That heat could easily have caused dehydration for some people, but there was plenty of water to drink and volunteers in brown shirts were squirting it out of back-pack dispensers for anyone who looked like they might be thirsty.

The Ukulele Orchestra was one of the big attractions of the festival for me. I'm a fan and wasn't disappointed. Everyone down by the stage was enjoying them and the people up on the bank by the tents were also taking in the music from a distance.

I didn't get into the food tents, but apparently the demonstrations were good. A show of hands suggested there were a few Marlborough people, mostly out-of-towners and a good few internationals as well.

The biggest drudge of the whole day was walking back to the carpark, which was quite a hike in the heat. I was surprised how few cars were parked for a crowd that size, but then the bus operation was running so efficiently. I was lucky enough to have a sober driver (thanks, Em).

So my first wine festival is out of the way and I'm already looking forward to the next one. Think I'll get some friends from down south together and bring them up next year to show the region off.

No better time to do it.

The Marlborough Express