Rodeo - with all the fun of the Fare

HANG ON: Jock Westgarth
HANG ON: Jock Westgarth

Strawberry Fare will be sharing its big day this year with the Waimate Rodeo which has been moved forward by two weeks.

The well-established fair attracts about 12,000 people to Waimate when the weather is favourable but organisers are happy to share the day with the rodeo.

"We don't see it as a problem," said committee chairwoman Joy McIvor. We start early in the morning and they only start at 1pm."

Waimate Rodeo secretary Craig Booth said the rodeo was being shifted to December 14 so the event will capture top bucking riders who may otherwise skip it in favour of one in Gisborne which was on the same day.

He said they compete at Millers Flat Rodeo on December 26 then fly out to the North Island. Until this year, Waimate rodeo was held on December 27.

"This way we keep the top South Island riders in the South Island and probably get top North Island cowboys coming down for the same reason."

He is expecting about 220 contestants.

The rodeo, in its 58th year, normally gets about 1000 so how well it benefits from the crowds drawn to Waimate for the fair remains to be seen. The rodeo goes until 6pm.

Mr Booth said he knew of people, including sponsors, who had never been because after Christmas they were at the lakes.

There were higher costs with shifting the date, because the stock was not moving around with the South Island rodeo circuit and had to be brought up from the Outram area.

The horses were all Waimate's with about 50 being rounded up from local hills for the event. Mr Booth said the Waimate Rodeo Club has some of the best bucking broncos in the country and the top 20 go around other South Island rodeos including this season's national finals in Wanaka in March.

The club is also planning to supply some cowboys and a clown for the small Christmas parade being held as part of Strawberry Fare.

Mrs McIvor said about 250 stalls were registered for the event but there was still room for more depending on the product.

The success of the event was partly down to its long history, compared to some other fairs, of 30 years. Busloads come up regularly from Dunedin for the day, which has a free admission.

Last year the Topp Twins performed but this year the committee has focused on local acts such as Waimate band Top Shelf, Eden Cooney, Geraldine singer-songwriter Jaz Paterson, a ukulele group from Oamaru, Scottish dancers and music from former Waimate student Henry Francis.

Father Christmas will be in attendance in the Waimate childcare centre next to Seddon Park where the fair is based.

Mrs McIvor said Father Christmas reported this venue to be a success because the children found the familiarity of a childcare centre to be conducive to a less scary Father Christmas experience.

This may be the last year alcohol will be served at the fair as changes to liquor laws mean the cost of licences for liquor serving stall-holders may make them unviable.

Organisers made the event dog free in recent years and Mrs McIvor said that would continue this year.


South Canterbury