Wild winds, rain take festival toll

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 07/01/2014
tdn wind stand
ROBERT CHARLES
Ella Ace, 6, was one of about 60 children who went to Strings and Bars, a summer scene event in Pukekura Park.

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Whirling winds and torrential rain have left Festival of Lights organisers shifting events out of Pukekura Park.

Bouts of bad weather have led to two out-of-town acts being shifted from the Hatchery Lawn to the TSB Stadium and two Taranaki bands having their gigs cancelled altogether.

Over the weekend Beyondsemble and Shaun Preston's concerts were moved inside because heavy rain posed safety concerns for the performers and their electrical equipment.

New Plymouth District Council event boss Melissa Devine-Collins said the bad weather had also led to the cancellation of popular Taranaki bands Gazebo Girls and The Simpletons.

"We don't just cancel an event because it rains. We have to cancel when it becomes a health and safety issue for the public, our performers or our contractors," she said.

Wet weather venues were introduced to the festival about five years ago and Ms Devine-Collins said they were now considered a vital part of running the TSB Bank Festival of Lights.

"That bad weather was a shame but we can't do much about it. We did put in for good weather but unfortunately we didn't get it all," she said.

While moving a performance inside did not cost more, it did mean contractors had to work to create a stage and an ambience in a new performance space.

Despite the shift, attendance numbers at Friday night's Beyondsemble and Saturday night's Preston shows were good.

"Having them perform in a wet-weather venue does change the atmosphere, absolutely, because you are inside. But there's tiered seating, so there's pluses and minuses to it.

"Obviously the ideal is to have them performing in the park; that's what the artist prefers and that's what the public prefers too," she said.

The wet weather venue is only used for travelling groups or big-name acts, and Ms Devine-Collins was hoping the stadium would not be needed for Bowl Factor on Thursday night.

The concert, starring X Factor's Jackie Thomas and Benny Tipene, is touted as one of the biggest events in the 49-act, 27-day festival.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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