The Te Anau Tartan Festival makes its return this Easter, after a one-year hiatus, with a new venue and new activities to entertain the whole family.
This year’s festival takes place at the Real Journeys Fiordland Community Events Centre, linking with Memorial Park at the rear where the outdoor highland games will be staged.
When Te Anau School resowed its playing field earlier this year, festival organisers considered the fragility of the new grass too risky so opted instead to move across the road to the events centre.
Chairman Chris Watson said the new venue offered the chance to host the highland piping and dancing competitions indoors, eliminating any chance of interference by bad weather. As an added bonus, the festival would be teaming up with the Te Anau market, which would be held in the stadium area of the events centre. Food stalls would also be operating outside at the highland games.
The piping and dancing competitions had already attracted entries from as far afield as Christchurch and Dunedin. Entries would still be taken on the day, but this year’s programme was already boasting the largest number of bagpiping competitors to date. Two competitors had registered to compete in both the highland dancing and bagpiping competitions.
Six males would be among those contesting the highland dancing, with parents, teachers and siblings keen to take part in the ever-popular “all-comers” section, including at least one brother and a Dad.
The highland games have also been given a makeover, with two new events for children – a “Haggis Run” and a “Build Nessie” event.
People of all ages were encouraged to give the highland games a go, with entry fees kept to a minimum to encourage full family participation. Individual entry is just $5 per person or $20 for a family.
Spot prizes will be awarded throughout the day, with Easter eggs presented to overall junior winners at the end of the day and challenge trophies awarded to senior competitors. New to the trophy list this year will be the Russell Baker Memorial trophy, handmade by woodworker Peter Robbie, to be presented to the top veteran woman.
“Russell (who died last year), was a staunch supporter of the Tartan Festival since its inception and always a hardworking volunteer on the day. We were lacking a trophy for this section and we thought this would be a fitting way to remember him,” Mr Watson said.
In previous years the festival has been bolstered with a concert on Good Friday and a social get- together on the Saturday night. Neither of those events will be happening this year, with the committee instead focusing on the logistics involved in reshaping the event for the new venue.
Registrations open at 8.30am on Saturday (April 20th), with piping and dancing competitions starting at 9am and the highland games from 9.30am. The day concludes around 4.30pm with a performance by the Te Anau Ukulele group “From the Top”, followed by a massed performance by the pipers and dancers, and the presentation of prizes and trophies.
Mr Watson urged people to come early to ensure they got a chance to complete all events on offer.
“If it’s a bit cooler, there will be plenty of indoor options to keep people entertained between events,” he said.