Hopes festival will help heal fractured communities

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 25/09/2012

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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A spring festival to bring together communities fractured by the earthquakes will be held along the lower reaches of the Avon River next month, thanks largely to the determination of one man.

The inaugural Spring River Festival is the brainchild of the Avon-Otakaro Network and will see about 40 community events staged at New Brighton, Ferrymead, Kerrs Reach, Avondale, Burwood, Travis, Shirley and Avonside on October 20 and 21.

Network co-chairman Evan Smith, whose home was red-zoned, has dipped into his personal savings to provide the seed funding needed to get the festival off the ground, but he hopes to attract sponsorship so that it can become an annual event.

Smith said the aim of the festival was to bring people together and to celebrate the Avon River.

"It will be a very special weekend that recognises the importance of the Avon-Otakaro River and Estuary to the history, health and wellbeing of Christchurch," he said.

Events planned included a flat-water sports regatta, a jump jam jamboree, a community market, sand painting on the beach, a kite-boarding competition and a waterfront concert.

The Avon-Otakaro Network, which petitioned for the Government to turn the red-zoned stretches of the Avon River into a park, hoped the festival would show the community the potential of the damaged east and get people thinking positively about the future.

"We see the east side of Christchurch as having enormous potential to become the future playground for our city based around the beaches and the river," Smith said.

The festival is being supported by the Christchurch City Council, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera), Sport Canterbury, CanCERN, Healthy Christchurch and the local Volunteer Army Foundation.

More details about the events can be found at springriver.org.nz.

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- The Press

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