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121 festival: Sustainable play for adults

Tim Ward, Cameron Morris and Olly De Salis hosted the 121 festival at the Tauheranikau Racecourse in Featherston last weekend. PHOTOS/ALEYNA MARTINEZ

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Tim Ward one of the creators of the 121 Festival said he expected a healthy crowd of 3000 people at the picturesque Tauheranikau Racecourse in Featherston from last Friday through to Sunday.

Ward said the venue had the potential to hold more than 6000 people.

What set 121 aside from other festivals is that founders Olly De Salis, Cameron Morris and Ward were taking the opportunity to set their own standards for waste management and minimising the carbon footprint of the event.

They hoped to be able to influence others to care about the environment as they do.

Ben Foot, Video Producer for Illumination and Optics in Wellington was in charge of the visuals in the 121 Dance Tunnel.

“I’m a festival-goer from the 90s and that was the beginning of the wave of consumerism but it wasn’t a major issue back then, there wasn’t this huge wave of ‘Made in China’.”

Auckland festival, Splore, had always championed sustainability, Ward said.

“But we’ve analysed all of those inputs and we’re taking it up another notch.”

Festival food vendors also had to follow the sustainable ethos of the festival owners. All utensils and food containers were compostable.

Perfomance stages at 121 festival included a live stage, disco ballroom and an odyssey stage, hosting genres from house and drum’n’bass to hip hop and live DJ’s like Black Madonna.

Ward said initially there were concerns about using the racecourse because of all the small spaces the location has, but instead of being worried about that they have embraced it.

”We’re not just going to fence this field and put people in the baking sun in a box – it’s an easy option but it’s an uncomfortable situation for most people to be in without shade.”

Tim Ward encourages festival-goers to bring their own water bottles because single use containers would not be available to buy on the day.

The organisers want people to have the ability to bump into each other and have a conversation while touring through the event, Ward said.

“The beauty of meeting people who are all like-minded is that it’s the meeting of minds and ideas and everyone goes away feeling inspired and wanting to do more for themselves and others – it’s that real sense of community.

“In a [square space] situation you’re creating boredom and that means drinking heavily whereas here alcohol is a complement to the event – it’s not something that we focus on throwing down people’s throats.”

About concerns people might be too intoxicated to observe the sustainable ethos of the festival, Ward said, “The best that we can do is encourage and lay the framework for them to be on site respectfully but we’ve got a sustainability team called Carbon Heroes, they’ll be separating all of the waste if anything falls into the wrong place.

”Everything that we’re using for that process is second-use so we’ve got a couple of hundred malt sacks from an abandoned brewery.”

The 121 festival hope to be back in Wairarapa next year.

“We’re in it for the long haul and we definitely want to be here for as long as Wairarapa will have us.”

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