All aboard love train for Middlemarch Singles Ball

BILLED as the matchmaking event of the year, the Middlemarch Singles Ball last night drew hundreds of people aiming for a shot at love.

Gumboots mixed with stilettos at the event, A Wartime Romance, held in a marquee in a paddock in east Otago.

Over 700 people filled the marquee last night, with over 300 having caught the Tui Love Train from Dunedin.

On board for two hours before reaching Middlemarch the drink flowed, as the conversation, singing and mingling took hold, eventually drowning out the '80s remix tape. The rules, bellowed by a security guard in each carriage before the train departed to the mainly young ballgoers, were simple: no smoking – as the tinder-dry historic train could go up in flames – and no sticking arms or legs out the windows.

The ball was originally started to solve the lack of women in the small rural community.

Now women attending outnumber men, but people are still coming from around the country to attend.

Grant Kennedy from Drummond in Southland said he was going for a good time, not a long time.

The 25-year-old said: "Everyone is here just to have a good time."

On the train were a few couples, including Sarah Swinbourn and James Foote, who met at the ball four years ago.

Sunday News