Womad leaves organisers 'rapt'

17,573 ticket-holders put a smile on the face of the organisers

KATE SAUNDERS
Last updated 05:00 20/03/2012

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The party's over, the park's still in good nick and the attendance numbers were pleasing.

Womad has wrapped up for another year and the 17,573 ticket-holders who attended were enough to put a smile on the face of the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust chief executive Suzanne Porter.

The total number attending the festival over the three days amounted to 43,900, just eight fewer than last year's event.

"We're rapt. About 15 per cent of that sale happened from Friday.

"It was a really relaxed and happy festival, helped by superb weather," Ms Porter said.

She said it was good to see so many children attending (3140) as they were the festival's future audience.

Although Womad sold out in 2007 when the capacity of 12,500 a day was filled, Ms Porter said she did not anticipate ever experiencing that again as it was too many people to be comfortable on site.

In terms of audience, early figures suggest the crowd was split 50/50 between those from out of town and local patrons.

And while attendance numbers were similar to last year, those pitching a tent dropped from 3200 to 2272.

But that didn't worry Ms Porter.

"I think it reflects the possible swing back to a more local audience," she said.

"And a lot of our campers camp because there aren't any other options.

"It gives us another income stream but it's there as a need."

Yesterday the cleanup started in earnest, with organisers keen to get the main stage and equipment cleared away before high winds forecast for the region hit.

Pukekura Park curator Chris Connolly said the grounds stood up remarkably well to being pounded by thousands of feet.

Mr Connolly said the animals in Brooklands Zoo had also coped well with the loud noise.

But they nearly had some new neighbours when a few festival-going hopefuls tried to climb the fence to get access to Womad.

"One or two people were silly enough to try and get access that way but security were very organised and dealt with it," Mr Connolly said.

He expected the park would take about two weeks to recover from the wheel lines left where people had walked, and the forecast rain would help.

The grass had been left a little longer for the event this year and he believed that had helped it cope with the foot traffic.

"We've had lots of very positive comments from visitors to the region about the park and how lucky we are to have such a facility."

Also feeling lucky were cafe operators in New Plymouth.

Petit Paris owner Fred Laude could hardly stop for a minute to have a word with the Taranaki Daily News yesterday afternoon.

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"It's been flat out, very busy, insane," he said.

"We've had our running shoes on and it's been go, go, go."

Chaos cafe owner Kerry Vosseler said Womad weekend was one of the most profitable times of the year for her business – right up there with Easter.

"We're always chock-a-block, it's really good for us.

"We doubled our turnover for the weekend," she said.

"It's absolutely brilliant for Taranaki bringing so many people into town."

Police reported no trouble or arrests at the event.

- Taranaki Daily News

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