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$49k ice rink could help flawed festival’s comeback

Children having fun in the snow dome. PHOTO/FILE

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Despite icy feedback, a controversial Carterton event may make a comeback next year.

Thousands of people flocked to Carterton last year for the Heart of Winter Festival – an event that boasted an ice rink and snow dome in its marketing.

What people were met with instead was a synthetic ice rink and a small snow dome with fake snow that “felt very much like the insides of nappies when wet”.

This is according to Carterton District Council community services manager Carrie McKenzie, who will present a report on a possible 2020 event to council today.

If it is to go ahead, the council would hire a real 160m2 ice rink for a week at a cost of $49,000.

In her report, McKenzie criticised last year’s ice skating and snow dome event which the council was responsible for running.

“The major issue was we were victims of our own success,” she said.

“Many of our restaurants sold out of food on the Saturday night, such was the success of bringing people to Carterton.”

She said people came from as far away as Palmerston North, Whanganui, and Wellington.

No tickets were sold before the event and the Carterton Events Centre was “inundated with people who turned up expecting to be able to purchase tickets at the door”.

The rink and dome were not set up until an hour before the event opened due to the Charles Rooking Carter Awards being held in the events centre the night before.

All Saturday sessions were sold out by 5.30pm, “leaving many disappointed”.

McKenzie said the layout of the events centre, night market stalls, and food trucks meant it did not cope with the “huge influx of people”.

“It was dangerous at the bottleneck at the entrance to the auditorium with people trying to get in and others trying to get out.”

She said there was no plan for how the queue would be managed for ticketing and entering and exiting the auditorium or the night market, which was held at the same time.

Along with failures of the ice skating and snow dome event, McKenzie said Holloway St was not closed to traffic for last year’s festival events, which meant fire dancers and crowds ended up on a road open to traffic.

She said several lessons were learned from the festival events and recommended the council agreed to a 2020 Heart of Winter Festival and hired a real ice skating rink for a week.

If the event is approved, the council would approach sponsors.

It would need to budget $57,500 for the event and could expect to get an income of $56,700 if sold out.

If the event does return a significant loss, it will be recommended thet council funds the loss from the 2020-21 contestable grants fund, meaning operational budgets would not be affected, she said.

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