Queenstown festival closes with a bang
Epic battles and fireworks entertain crowdsCHE BAKER
The Queenstown Winter Festival has wrapped up for another year, with organisers hailing the 10 days of thrills, spills, snow and ice, a success.
Organiser Lisa Buckingham said thousands of people poured into the resort to make the most of the celebrations. Despite a lack of snow, only one event, the Slopestyle Invitational, was cancelled.
The festival opening party on June 20, featuring a massive fireworks display, was the highlight event.
"It's such a good buzz with everyone coming downtown," Buckingham said.
Both ticketed and non-ticketed events during the festival had strong turnouts.
The weekend saw epic battles of varying degrees of seriousness on and off the slopes.
Saturday night's main event, the Thriller in the Chiller charity boxing event, had 18 amateur boxers going toe-to-toe in the ring.
Thriller director Simon Green said $24,000 was raised for the Branches Charitable Trust this year and more than $100,000 had been raised in the five years the event had been running.
"The coaches and trainers were incredibly proud that their proteges had acquitted themselves well, boxing competitively for all three rounds and finishing safely," Green said.
Event MCs Clint Brown and Howie Dobson singled out the fight between De "The Maori Warrior" Rangi and Gillian "The Banshee" Guinan as one of the best women's bouts at a corporate event they had seen.
The American Express Dash for Cash course would go down as one of the most challenging on record with course setters determined to make entrants work hard for their prize money.
Thirteen entrants had to ski or snowboard down Coronet Peak before scrambling through netting to claim a $250 cash prize.
The veteran's title went to Queenstown legend Charlie Phillips, the women's title to Erin Greene and the men's, and overall winner, to Stephen Popenhagen.
About 40 people competed in the spectacular suitcase race which had contestants sliding from the top of the course to the bottom in, or on, their suitcases.
Queenstown man Ross Murdoch was named the overall winner.
The festival closed last night with a carnival showcasing performances, food stalls and products. "It's a real celebration of all the different cultures that reside in Queenstown."
- The Southland Times
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