Wild and weird come out to play on West Coast

DEIDRE MUSSEN
Last updated 08:16 10/03/2013

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You could think you were in downtown Wellington for the sevens rugby tournament.

Over the years, more and more of those making the trek to Hokitika's Wildfoods Festival to chomp on the weird and wonderful in stunning sunshine have donned wild costumes to get into the vibe.

From topless "cops" with shorts padded in important places, to cowboys, duck shooters, cows, glamour queens, zombies and "elderly folk" with their Zimmer frames, to name but a few. The effort for those glammed up was worth it with $1000 handed over for the best dressed.

This year thousands from around New Zealand made the annual pilgrimage. Organisers put the figure at 12,000 who had attended yesterday's 24th festival, several thousand more than predicted.

The queue stretched two blocks to the tiny West Coast township's clock tower by early afternoon. Air New Zealand widened its reach with an extra flight from Wellington to Hokitika yesterday.

Many stallholders had great foodie stories to share. Christchurch couple Robert and Bev Dawson planned to sell muttonbirds at the festival in 2011 but ended up donating all their southern delicacies for the funerals of several people killed in the February 22 earthquake that year. They made it this year, their stall popular. "It's beautiful," exclaimed Aucklander Tim Dowson as he tasted some.

Soroptimist International's Westland branch had a secret whitebait pattie recipe for their stall.

Joy, a member who declined to reveal her full name, said local woman Pamela Fairmaid told her the recipe decades ago. She died about eight years ago and wrote the recipe for Joy in her will. "She made me swear that we wouldn't let it out."

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- Fairfax Media

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