The appropriately-named Wellyfest

The fourth Monday in October is New Zealand’s labour day, and as such marks the first bank holiday of Spring.  As bank holidays at home, over the weekend there are all sorts of events, and one which we chose to attend was the Wellington Folk Festival.

The festival wasn’t in Wellington city, rather it was at an outdoor education centre some 6.5km out of Wainuiomata, the other side of the harbour to Wellington.  Unlike most British folk festivals there wasn’t any integration into a town or village, as there wasn’t a town in walking distance of the site.  This gave quite a different feel to the event, making it closer-knit, perhaps more like a folk camp in atmosphere.  For us, as newcomers to the local scene, it was an easy place to strike up conversations with people, and I quickly found myself volunteered to join the local Morris dancers.

Still having very little in the way of “stuff”, we spent the week leading up to the festival running around equipping ourselves for family camping.  I browsed the net to find a suitable tent available at a local dealer, and settled on one from Dwight’s in Upper Hutt.  The tent may have been just the ticket, but the sales assistant clearly didn’t believe in letting people browse unhindered, and everything we looked at was commented on, while she extolled the shops superiority to it’s competition.  Sorry Dwight, but when we can get the exact same products for 1/3 less anywhere else, and sometimes for 50% less, we won’t be coming back.  The sales staff elsewhere aren’t nearly as damned annoying either.

Back to Wellyfest.  The main attraction was superb British singer, Tim van Eyken.  But it was also a chance to get a feel for the local scene, and it seemed that a lot of the festivals organisers were also performers.  I got the impression that the local talent were not professional musicians, rather they were performers for the love of the music.  As such, while the acts were not polished by the standards I’m used to, they were rich in charm and enthusiasm.  There were a wide range of workshops for such a small festival, which suggests a willingness to teach and to learn.  My favourite was the homebrew comparisons workshop, though I gave Cotswold Morris a try too.

In true Spring style, the weather was unpredictable.  The nights were cold, the rain heavy, but come Sunday the sun was shining brightly.  The weather had no ill effects on our enjoyment of the festival though, as our tent kept us dry and our wellies did their job.  Even though welly boots are called gumboots down here, I had the feeling that perhaps the nickname “Wellyfest” didn’t only refer to the locality.

The site on Friday…

And come Sunday…

It’s hard to see, but the main site became muddy nearly all over.


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