Big-city vibe at festival

Buskers an asset to the city

NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 05:00 04/02/2013
Jair Ramirez
DOUG FIELD/Fairfax NZ

PRECARIOUS PERCH: Jair Ramirez, of Wellington-based Campground Chaos, performs at the Buskers Festival in Queens Park on Saturday.

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Invercargill had a big metropolitan city feel and the tills were ringing at the weekend as thousands of people enjoyed a host of events, including the Southland Buskers Festival.

The festival, which drew about 5000 spectators, was one of many events around the south which kept the streets busy and put money into the cash registers of local businesses.

Other events in the region included the national track cycling championships and a vintage car show in Invercargill, the Gore A&P show, Stump the Hump and fun day at Tuatapere, and the model aircraft show at Mandeville.

Several Invercargill hotels and motels reported that they were almost full during the weekend.

Southland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Richard Hay said the Southland Buskers Festival had made Invercargill look like a big metropolitan city.

The busking had stimulated much more foot traffic than normal and one person had told Mr Hay that the feel of the city was so good it was "just like being in Melbourne".

It had been a big boost of morale and help to the economy, he said. Having the buskers in Invercargill was an asset to the city.

"It's something we can't afford not to have."

World Buskers Festival founder and artistic director Jodi Wright estimated that about 5000 people attended the Invercargill shows.

Venture Southland creative projects manager Angela Newell said the busking event crowds had been bigger than previous years, especially in Queens Park in the evenings.

The Invercargill City Council put $25,000 towards the event; the ILT and ILT Foundation donated $40,000; and $7500 came from the Community Trust of Southland.

Not all city businesses benefited from the big crowds, however, with H & J Smith chief executive John Green saying business was steady.

Residents often enjoyed outdoors on hot summer days and deferred shopping, he said.

Invercargill was not the only town bursting at the seams, with Tuatapere's population nearly tripling for the Stump the Hump and associated activities. The town's Four Square owner Grant Richardson said business was up by between 30 and 40 per cent. "It was a very big day."

Cycling Southland chief executive Nick Jeffrey said 120 riders competed in the national track cycling championships in Invercargill, with support crews and the riders families also coming south.

Gore Model Aircraft Club captain Jarrad Scott said Models over Mandeville, an annual model aircraft show near Gore in its 10th year, attracted the most people it had ever had.

Senior Sergeant Dave Raines, of Invercargill, said behaviour in the city was better than normal with few arrests made.

All of the arrests were for breaches and warrants, he said.

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- The Southland Times

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