Auckland Easter show saved by record crowd
Numbers mushroom to 130,000MARIKA HILL
A record-breaking crowd has resurrected Auckland's struggling Easter Show.
Free entry proved the winning ticket for more than 130,000 people who visited the five-day show at ASB Showgrounds.
The total crowd was up by 70,000, more than double the numbers who attended last year.
This included almost 38,000 people on Friday - the biggest crowd in the show's 171-year history.
The event was under pressure to perform this year after successive years of declining attendance.
Organisers say the boost in numbers returned the Coca-Cola Easter Show to its days of glory in the 1990s.
"We used to spend so much money on marketing to justify the gate charge - in the end it was a no-brainer - spend less on marketing and ticketing and make it a free to enter," ASB Showgrounds chief executive Mark Frankham said.
"It was a fantastic result."
Organisers had hoped to top 100,000 people, but they had beat that target by noon yesterday, Frankham said.
Adorable chicks, strong men and a farmyard of animals were on display.
Amusement rides and circus performers also featured during the weekend of entertainment.
Cyclone Ita almost proved disastrous for the Easter Show.
The doors closed on the show's opening morning due to wild weather, but people returned despite persistent rain showers.
Easter Show marketing and event manager Nicola Harris said the show would be free again next year as long as sponsors were on board.
"Auckland has really come out and shown they want the show and they are enjoying it," she said. "We're going to be carrying it on."