Shaun Wallace, known as ‘The Dark Destroyer’, was among the Toast Martinborough crowd. PHOTO/ELI HILL

Despite weather ‘one of better ones’

ELI HILL
eli.hill@age.co.nz

It was more than just another day at the office for a star of the popular British television game show The Chase who went to Toast Martinborough as part of his book tour and ended up singing to a crowd.

Shaun Wallace, known as ‘The Dark Destroyer’, was among the more than 7,000 people who brushed aside the threat of rain to enjoy the music, wine and atmosphere of Toast Martinborough yesterday.

Wallace was invited on stage at the Te Kairanga vineyard where he was encouraged by the band Uncle Monkey to sing a rendition of You Sexy Thing by Hot Chocolate.

“Toast Martinborough is absolutely lovely,” Wallace said. “I thought it was going to rain for a little bit but it’s held off and is just fantastic.

“I’m having a great time at the festival – the people are warm and really friendly. I thought my voice was pretty bad, but we had a great time. The crowd loved it, they absolutely loved it.”

The chaser is on a tiki tour to promote his autobiography Chasing the Dream.

“I want people to come out and say hello to me. It’s my way of thanking the public for making the show such a success.”

While tents provided shelter for many festival goers, others such as Annalyse Salmon of Palmerston North came decked out in ponchos.

“It was so much fun when I went last year, but even though it’s raining it doesn’t dampen your spirits,” she said.

Attire at the event varied with Lynda Ewing, Kathy Webb, and Meredith Pottage, three members of a group of six from Tauranga wearing grape outfits.

“This is an annual girls’ trip away,” Ewing said.

“We’ve been to Melbourne, Oamaru and we’ve been building up to this and we really enjoyed it.

“The rain has actually been quite nice. It makes things a bit cooler, rather than burning hot.”

Manning the gates at the Muirlea Rise vineyard was South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen.

“We’ve been on the gate for the last nine years. Just because I’m mayor doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing it. I really enjoy meeting the people.

“The atmosphere’s really good. With the lack of heat I think people are a lot less inebriated and everyone seems calm and friendly. It’s a really good Toast. Having been to 21 of them I’d say this is one of the better ones.”

While a post on the festival’s Facebook Page on Saturday warned festival goers that the weather might impact on the day, general manager Anna Nielson said she couldn’t be happier with how it went.

“Of course, the weather forecast looked pretty atrocious. Last night it was really windy here in Martinborough so this morning we ran around picking things up and resurrecting things and got it all tidied up and the wind dropped just as everyone came in.

“We’re thrilled with how it’s all sort of panned out and everybody’s been in really great form and there’s a really good vibe, so very happy considering what it could’ve been.”

Weather had affected numbers – particularly those coming over the Remutaka Hill from Wellington, Nielson said with about 7300 people attending.

“Those who are here in Wairarapa would’ve realised the weather is much better than anticipated but it has put some people off in Wellington and that’s the nature of an outdoor event, particularly in spring.”