Most of the punters at the near-sell-out Parachute Christian music festival won't know the name of the event's biggest star.
It's not a Grammy-winning singer from overseas but a transforming truck-trailer called Sam, which forms the core of Parachute's main stage.
"I like to call her Samantha," said Conrad Mauauri of Oceania in Auckland, which hires the $1 million stage to Parachute. "She's the only one in the country. She's a 15-metre trailer that converts into a 15.8 x 12.24 x 12.5 metre stage in four or five hours. The roof is 10 tonnes, and you can hang 10 tonnes of lights on it."
Gerald "Ge" Hagen, voluntary lighting crew chief, yesterday hung 216 lights on the stage. They collectively draw 1470 amps worth of power.
This weekend's festival is slightly smaller than previous events, with 120 international bands instead of 150. But founder Mark de Jong did not think it would affect people's enjoyment.
"All the major stages are still the same," Mr de Jong said. "I don't think people will notice a big difference."
Tickets are capped at 17,500 this year - 20,000 attended last year's event - in a bid to use less of the event centre and keep costs down. Prices are about 25 per cent lower than last year.
Festivalgoers donated $29,600 fto the "pay what you can afford" initiative, allowing Parachute to subsidise 148 of 166 families who asked for help to attend this year's event.
Adult tickets are $174 for the weekend, children pay $80 and a family ticket is $399.
Gates open at 11am Friday with Choirboy opening the event at 1pm on the Apollo stage with Saving Grace, New Empire, Ruby Frost, Evermore, Rapture Ruckus and HalfNoise taking to the mainstage on Friday.
- Waikato Times