Waimate to reap economic benefit of major events

Waimate Shears Spring Society president Warren White rounding up sheep ahead of the Waimate Shears event held this weekend.

Waimate Shears Spring Society president Warren White rounding up sheep ahead of the Waimate Shears event held this weekend.

The Waimate economy could be boosted to the tune of nearly half a million dollars this weekend, with thousands expected to pour into the town for two major events.

The 50th edition of the annual Waimate Shears, at the town's new $800,000 pavilion, start on Thursday, while the popular Waimate 50 motorsport event kicks off on Friday, when the first of two weekends of racing starts.

The Waimate Shears run until Sunday.

Waimate District Mayor Craig Rowley said the district could expect to draw in between $300,000 and $400,000 from the events. 

* New Waimate Shears $800,000 pavilion
* Pedal to the metal for Waimate 50

"It's great for the town, and not just that, the whole district." 

With accommodation "pretty well booked" in Waimate, many accommodation providers in smaller towns like Makikihi would reap the benefits from the event, he said. 

"People know Waimate throws a good party, which we do with our events."

He said the events brought more tourists into town and would have a good "flow-on effect", with many coming back to visit, something the council identified as a part of its economic development strategy.

Waimate Shears Spring Society executive officer Eileen Smith said there would be more than 130 competitors from across New Zealand and overseas competing in wool handling, and blade and machine shearing.

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The 50th anniversary celebrations were set to be kick-started with a dinner featuring guest speaker Sir David Fagan, 16-time Golden Shears champion. 

Smith said many of the original shearers would be attending the event.

Society president Warren White said it would be "a big weekend for Waimate; there will be lots of people in town".

Waimate 50 spokesman Rob Aikman said many national competitors would be at the event, which had motorcycle racing added this year.

The first weekend of events would feature a hill climb on Point Bush Rd and a rally sprint at Waihao Forks. 

The main event, over Labour Weekend, was when the streets of Waimate were expected to roar as thousands of people converged on the town.

The Waimate 50 resumed in 2010 after an 11-year hiatus, and the success of that event had enabled organisers to build on what was a roaring revival.

"It is the only place in New Zealand that shuts down the whole street," Aikman said, predicting some 10,000 people could come to Waimate over the course of the event. 

"It's quite thrilling ... town will be booming."

While the two events would be "competing" for people, Aikman said it was a "great thing" for Waimate to have so many people coming in.


 - Stuff


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