Fun for all ages at sunny Sarau festival

HELEN MURDOCH
Last updated 13:30 03/02/2014

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A beautiful Moutere day welcomed a record crowd to the Sarau Festival, which filled the grounds of the Moutere Hills Community Centre from mid-afternoon yesterday.

Organiser Jenny Leith said it was hard to put a figure on the attendance because there were so many children, who had free entry, "but I think around 4500 to 5000".

Initially created around the Moutere area's annual blackcurrant festival, and as a fundraiser for the community centre, the festival now offers cycling tours, cooking demonstrations, entertainment, food, stalls, and loads of space to sit in the afternoon sun, enjoy a wine or beer and relax.

Mrs Leith said a big mix of people attended the festival this year, with a lot of families and, at the other end of the spectrum, a large number of senior citizens, who made the most of the supplied shady seats to enjoy the famous Sarau Cream Teas.

"We sold a phenomenal number of cups of tea."

A highlight for her was the "amazing" team of volunteers who made the festival happen. People from as far away as Tadmor and Richmond gave up their anniversary weekend to set up, run and clean up after the festival each year, she said.

"Everyone is responsible for their own areas, and we only have two meetings a year."

Funds raised by the festival, which had yet to be tallied, would be split between the community centre and various Moutere sports clubs, with particular emphasis on those that supported children, Mrs Leith said.

Festival proceeds also fund the Sarau Scholarship, which is awarded to leading Moutere young people and is announced around late March.

Mrs Leith said work on rebuilding the community centre, which was twice damaged by fire last year, was almost complete.

The function room, meeting rooms and commercial kitchen were complete, and work on relaying the gymnasium floor would start this week.

A community-funded fitness centre, which would be built on the southern side of the main centre, was the next project, she said.

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