Thousands enjoyed the beautiful sunshine yesterday, flocking to Carterton for the annual Daffodil Festival.
Most years, people go to Middlerun Farm in Gladstone to pick their own daffodils in the farm’s rolling green seven-acre paddock. But this year, growers in the region have reported fewer blooms than usual due to the rain, meaning self-picking was cancelled – instead, pre-picked bunches were available for sale at the farm.
The calm weather and a pleasant 17 degrees Celsius temperature made for a perfect day to mark the start of spring.
The festival had a record 145 market stalls, the Wai Art Show at the events centre, food trucks, and horse cart rides.
The famous Daffodil Express heritage steam train with sixteen passenger cars, clocking in at 300m in length, took hundreds of out-of-town festival goers on a return trip from Wellington.
Event organiser Jenny Gasson said the festival was a huge success. “I think we had more people come than ever before,” Gasson said.
“The weather certainly helped with that, but I think people just wanted an excuse to get out.”
Despite the self-picking not going ahead, Gasson said many people travelled to Middlerun to buy pre-picked daffodils and said the atmosphere in Carterton was “awesome.”
Part of the festivities had punters pay $5 for three tennis balls they could throw at a target to dunk cold water on Mayor Ron Mark – fundraising for the Carterton Indoor pool, which needs $2m of upgrades.
Mark said that some kids couldn’t hit the side of a barn wall, while others, some who he said clearly played cricket, wanted bang for their buck.
He said the announcer told passers-by they had an opportunity for payback if they weren’t happy with their rates bill.
“I think I got dunked over 30 times, and every time the sun went behind a cloud, I was shivering, thinking it just dropped another five degrees. Maybe I just need to go to harden up school.
“But it’s all for a good cause,” Mark said
“That pool does so much good in our community, so I’m glad to do my little bit to help,
Mark said the feedback from visitors and stallholders was overwhelmingly positive.
“The locals were buzzing, and some of the stall holders told me they did great business and would be coming back,” he said.
“This festival has value for the region, and it was so good to see so many happy smiles, good music and good cheer.”