Friday 29 April 2016

Arrowtown Autumn Festival- 2016

After being dropped off by our rally shuttle bus at the top of the hill we wandered down into Arrowtown village...

...and along Buckingham Street catching the tail end of the vintage cars leaving on their own rally after being parked up along the street on display. They'd be back for the Festival Parade later in the afternoon.

I laughed out loud when I uploaded this particular photo. It would have been a exclamation of surprise had I not met the two people in black puffer jackets later in the day. Judy and Frank are from Tauranga (our old home town), and I've played golf with Judy on many occasions. They appear in half a dozen shots and I hadn't even seen them through my camera lens. It just goes to show what I miss when I'm focused on a particular subject. Luckily, Judy spotted me later (in amongst a large crowd I might add) and we were able to catch up.

We made our way down to the village green, where underneath the colourful autumn trees, a large and very busy arts and craft market was taking place.

We stopped to watch one of the street entertainers who had a large crowd totally enthralled and involved with his antics. His mullet and tiger tights with the strategically placed tiger head (which he wore, legs rolled up, under his shorts before the great reveal) were popular props.

There were many interesting stalls manned by some very clever and enterprising people. I love a good market (I have it in my blood- my mother still has a stall at a Napier market most weekends) but unfortunately when you live on the road there's not much room for knick-knacks, heavy ceramics, tall wire sculptures or large wooden furniture and there's only so many smellies one can purchase... we tend to gravitate towards the food stalls. Although it wasn't the $12 price tag that stopped us from buying a whitebait fritter, it was the mile long queue!

I love people-watching and I have the feeling that this guy, in his steam punk get-up, likes being watched as I saw him half a dozen times as he wandered around and around and around the market again. I love the look on the little girl's face. Try explaining that, Mum.

What a beautiful backdrop to the festival. The Autumn Festival runs for 5 days, with various entertainment, tours and shows happening around the town, Saturday is the big day with the market and parade.

By the time we emerged from the market another performer was fully engaged in entertaining the crowd.

It takes an awful lot of trust and skill, juggling- a knife included- while standing on a bike, mounted on a pole, that's being held taut by four very obliging guys from the crowd. Especially when you've just spent the last 10 minutes taking the mickey out of them. One very brave man.

After a rather bleak start to the day, the sun and blue skies brought the main street alive, as crowds of people descended on the village.

Although it was rather difficult getting past another entertainer when we wandered back up the street. He was quick to pick off anybody who tried to move away or past as he performed. 

I've found that if you have a camera stuck to your face, they're less likely to want to include you in their act; they prefer to play to the camera than make a fool of you. Consummate showmen.

The crowd thought he was pretty clever, especially the children, cheering and laughing at his every joke and move. Although they took a moment to adsorb one joke which I thought was quite witty- he told us he has enjoyed New Zealand the most in his travels (he's from the States), because Kiwis support the All Blacks.

He ignored the old adage of 'never working with children...', asking a young boy in the crowd, who had a unicycle, to do a few laps while he set up some of his gear and giving him $5 in return. Then having this little girl hold a spinning basketball on her finger. She was handed $10 after she spent a little time chasing him around the circle for it.

He was very good though, with amazing skill, flexibility and co-ordination, manhandling three large basketballs in front of, around, through and behind himself.

Half an hour before the Festival Parade was due to start we found ourselves a good possie sitting in the gutter and leaning on a pole, on the sunny side of the street. Poles are good nobody can crowd you from behind. We knew from experience there would be a bit of jostling going on closer to the start time.  

Nothing bugs me more than getting yourself in a good position, sitting or standing there for half an hour or more while others continue to enjoy the entertainment, to then have someone maneuver and push their way through to take a place right in front of you. I'm afraid they get a short-shift from me. 

Why anyone expects to arrive late and get the best seat in the house is beyond me. As it was the guy beside me harrumphed and mumbled his way through the parade when a couple with a toddler plonked themselves down in the gutter in front of him just as the parade started and after promising him they would stay seated, stood up often blocking his video view of the parade.

The early birds entertained themselves while waiting for the parade to begin.

And it wasn't too long before a Yak 52 came roaring into sight and performed some death-defying aerobatics above us...

Before zipping back and forward along the slope behind as if highlighting and framing the beautiful autumn colours Arrowtown is famous for. A waving hand appeared out the cockpit window on the last fly-past and he disappeared back over the range behind.

The sound of bagpipes off in the distance heralded the start of the parade...

...which was soon followed by a few of the vintage cars...

...the Town Cryers...

...a few more shiny automobiles...

...Farmer Brown, chewing a barley stalk (if you look closely), and his vintage tractor...

...dancing girls...

...various entertainment groups, and the local vet with a menagerie of animals ...

...Chinese Lion Dancers, who scared the bejesus out of small children sitting in the gutters...

...a 'flower basket' vehicle that looked the most like the parade floats of yesteryear...

...a selection of classic cars, many from my era...

And one of our good old 'shuttle buses', carrying children from a local school.

A deep rumbling and road vibration, along with a huge plume of coal smoke signified the approach of the heavy machinery...

...aptly followed by fire brigade and other emergency service vehicles and personnel...

  ..bringing up the rear, and the end of a fantastic and interesting parade.

If you'd like to see many more photos from the parade and especially of the vintage vehicles, click on this link, it'll take you to my Flickr Album.

While we waited for the parade to disperse and our bus to arrive I found this lady entertaining children with her bubbles. She was unaware that 'Superman' was trying to touch her bottom! I'm not sure what he was trying to reach, but she was moving about quite fast and he was following along behind. She didn't have a 'tail', perhaps he wanted to touch her wings. Try doing that in a few years time little fellow and you'll get more than your hand slapped!

What better way to finish off a fabulous day of fun and entertainment than to treat yourself to a double coned, chocolate flaked snow-freeze icecream. Caught you, Paul! You'll have to work that off running up the side of a steep hill returning a wayward wallet.

And one last shot of that beautiful slope- taken from the open air bus window, while waiting in a three vehicle traffic jam.


  1. Hmmm, another on the must see do reporting camera Buff

    1. Thanks Jimu, you need to get your name on their busking list- all the performers were brought in from overseas.

  2. Maybe I can change that....we still have autumn colour in Nelson!
    Ciao J

  3. Hello, this is a late comment but I'm researching information about the festival for my trip in 2019. Wanted to check how long the parade typically lasts, and from which direction does it move? I actually have a flight to catch that afternoon (around 4.30pm), so really hope to find out how the schedule may work out timing wise - really hope I can catch some parts of the parade!!

    1. It starts at 2pm (lasts an hour at least) and travels up Buckingham Street after gathering in Ramshaw Lane. You'd have to leave quickly to avoid the traffic chaos towards the end of the parade.

    2. Thanks for the reply, appreciate it!


Thank you for taking the time to leave a message, I love reading them! All comments are personally moderated by me and I will post and answer them as soon as possible, Shellie