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Martinborough Fair on the move

The Martinborough Fair in February 2021. PHOTO/FILE

In another covid first, an iconic Wairarapa event will be heading to a new out-of-town venue.

The Martinborough Fair, held in the centre of town every February and March, is expected to go ahead at the Tauherenikau racecourse next year at a slightly later date.

Event organisers Vivienne O’Reilly and Paul Mason wrote to stallholders informing them of the change of plan.

“At a meeting of the fair conveners, the mayor and deputy mayor of South Wairarapa, [South Wairarapa District Council] departmental heads, police, and the chair of the Martinborough Business Association, it was decided that the fair will be postponed until March and April 2022,” they said.

They said under current covid traffic light settings, retail markets like the fair needed to provide one metre of clear space for each attendee.

“We did the sums, and while there would be sufficient area around the town centre, the layout of the stalls would need to be significantly altered to prevent the build-ups and bottlenecks so often a part of market life in Martinborough each year.”

Due to the constricted nature of the stall layout and potential impact on the town, organisers could not give South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] the confidence that it was safe for the event to proceed in its traditional format in Martinborough.

“Current regulations mean that we would need the whole country at ‘Green’ for us to operate in Martinborough with the council’s blessing. There is also some uncertainty about what the requirements might become under any given traffic-light setting,” they said.

The organisers expected a move to the ‘green’ traffic light setting was unlikely. With stakeholders needing decisions to be made, an alternate venue was considered.

“We have investigated the viability of Wairarapa Race Club [WRC] grounds in Tauherenikau as an alternative venue for the postponed market days for 2022.

“After much research, advice from MBIE [the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment], and further meetings with police and WRC management, we believe the venue would enable us to provide more than the one metre of clear space per attendee required while avoiding much of the typical congestion,” they said.

They also said a high level of public health safety could be achieved.

Organisers were working on stall layouts with the intention to hold the fair at the racecourse next year.

  • People without booked stalls who wanted a presence at the new venue in Tauherenikau can apply for a stall site online at martinboroughfair.org.nz. More information is available from [email protected]

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