Monday, April 8, 2013

All the Fun of the Fair! Waikouaiti Food Festival.

The weather forecasters got it right.  A dreary end to the week, followed by a day of fine weather.  Friday had spatters of rain and a grey, sad sky.  Saturday, Food Festival Day, dawned clear and crisp.  In fact it had been so "crisp" that some locals reported frost on the ground, shrivelled courgettes and browned pumpkin leaves, and a crystalline rime to scrape from the car windows.

Laura made a nice job of making our table look cheerful.
At eight in the morning we loaded the van with tables, cloths, a flower arrangement in a blue plastic bucket, and many boxes of packed pots.  Then we headed on down to the Waikouaiti race course.  No racing event this, but a gastronomic gathering that was a fund raiser for the local museum (the Waikouaiti Coast Heritage Centre). 

The museum put up a fine display in one of the tents.
The first three hours of the day were particularly cold for us at the racecourse, as our stall was in the shadow of the main stand.  The main stand is a tall building that was made in 1930, with rows of seats arranged like rungs of a ladder.  The highest row, at the back of the stand, is in close proximity to the roof and the sky, where missing tiles make the heavens visible, and allow water to get in!

The cold was such, that it did put people off from lingering at our table, until the sun finally worked its way round the main stand and lit us up.  Hot coffee did help keep hypothermia at bay, but it was a close run thing!

Cheese Rolls.  These are... buttered white sandwich bread rolled around a sloppy mix of chopped union and grated cheese, served warm.  It is a something of a South Island delicacy, and is often to be found at school or church fund raisers, and other community events.  The saturated fat levels of this delicacy enable people this far South to build up a layer of fat to protect against the winter cold (think of penguins and fur seals).  Notice the warm jackets and pink cheeks...

More "upmarket" is Whitestone cheese from Oamaru.  Whitestone make delicious cheese and frequently win awards.
I was thrilled to see that lots of people came to the event.  The museum had put a great deal of effort into advertising, and had invited four well known culinary personalities to give demonstrations.  They had also hired a band to give live musical entertainment, and there were probably about 20 food stalls, and some craft stalls. 

The crowd listen to Fleur from Fleur's Place, Moeraki
Here Fleur is stuffing a large fish into some sea kelp.
I did not have great hopes of selling much pottery that day, as I guessed that the main focus for people would be tasting and buying food. 

Meet James, our local Honey man.  Great honey, reasonable prices and happy bees!
Years ago, when pubs in this country closed at 6pm, NZ used to have "the six o-clock swill".  Beer drinking has moved on from those dark times, and now we have boutique beer, and an organic brewery or two.  
Things actually went quite well for us, and, in addition to the sales that we made on the day, we also were able to advertise our Old Post Office Gallery and show people what we do there.  People also seemed to be genuinely interested in the pottery, and a new crystalline glazed vase caused quite a bit of comment.

We packed up very promptly at the end of the day, and, after a cup of tea, a quick shower and a change of clothes, we were back on the road heading North for Oamaru for the 7pm opening of the pottery exhibition at Pottery-On-Tyne. 

The exhibition opening was a nice event, and it was lovely catching up with friends, old and new, and meeting other people who enjoyed making things from clay.  Interest in pottery seems to be on the increase in Oamaru, a few years ago the club was in mortal danger of collapsing, with only about three members struggling to keep going, but now they have over twenty, and a really charming old cottage as club rooms.  It is a real pleasure to see such progress, and several of their members have discovered the delights of going into the countryside with buckets and spades and digging local clay.


Anna said...

glad you had some good sales and encouraging to here of the increase in membership of the club

Angie said...

Sounds like a great day ...the bitterness of the cold againt the bright sunshine was a shame but I'm glad you got some sales ...and had a nice get together later, with fellow potters. xx

Peter said...

Hello Anna,
Good news about people becoming interested in making things from clay are a boost to the morale, and the sales certainly do help us feed the cats and pay some of the bills!

Hello Angie,
Probably "chilly and fresh" rather than "bitter", we still have that level of cold waiting for us in July or August, but Jack frost is a reminder that Summer has exited stage left, and Autumn has drifted in from the wings! xx :)

Armelle Léon Bitterolf said...

Hello Peter,
It's nice to see the crowd and to know you had some sales, today the storm brings us hot air, these last days we didn't know what spring means? We are waiting for the crowd here too, tourists should come soon.
Best wishes to You, Laura and the cats

Anonymous said...

Yay sales! That's worth the frozen toes ;)
A fun day in Waikouaiti.


Peter said...

Hello Armelle,
Good to hear from you. Now that winter has left your island, I hope that summer brings lots of happy tourists this year. Interesting that the storm brings hot air. In this part of the world we sometimes have North Westerly gales that can be very warm.

Hello Sue,
You never know.., my frosted toes might grow back again!! Yep, we certainly make our own entertainment in Waikouaiti!! :)

Pat - Arkansas said...

I still have a difficult time wrapping my mind around the weather on the other side of the world. Happy Autumn to you. Although I shouldn't be, I'm much in favor of fat-filled foods, especially cheese, to assist with the padding on my bones. I wish I could have been there for the samples. I'm happy for the sales, of course, and even happier that folks showed an interest in what you're doing. They should be VERY impressed with your lovely glazes.

Thanks for your visit, Peter, and the well wishes to this here/gone/ here again blogger.

Peter said...

Hi Pat,
Delighted to hear from you. I think that the weather has great difficulty wrapping its mind around what it should be doing at different sides of the world these days, what with all the snow some people are still getting in spring almost summer! Down here the weather sometimes gives us a hint of summer, and other times a definite reminder of chilly things to come. I think it all depends on how the weather feels when it gets out of bed in the morning!!
Kind Thoughts and hugs from us here, P&L

Amy said...

Great to hear how you thought that many pots wouldn't sell- and they did! I find it so unpredictable at times--- hard to know, isn't it what will happen?
sounds like a lovely event, except for all the cold! hope to see some close-up pieces of your latest pots soon.

Peter said...

Hi Amy,
Good to hear from you. The only predictable thing about sales is that they are unpredictable!!

The event was lovely, I keep thinking back to it, and the thing that I remember most is the relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.

More pots are firing in the kiln as I write this.... photos soon!

angela walford said...

ahoy would that be sheeps cheese then... mmmm that or they just like painting sheep on their van! glad you had a charming time, nothing like a bit of festival promo.. Oamaru looks pretty and tidy, ooh and very green!! gotta love googley maps :))

Peter said...

Hello There Ange,
Ha ha! Sheep's cheese, that was well spotted! We used to have huge numbers of sheep here, but now they have mostly been replaced by dairy cows... it is possible that the artist who painted the sheep on the caravan, still hasn't mastered depicting the larger animal as yet..., I do note that the sheep is black, and most of the cows around here are black and white... maybe the artist thinks that getting the colour right might be the first step to painting a cow..? Who knows! Anyway, I also suspect that Whitestone Cheese do in fact make a sheep's cheese as part of their range of yummy cheeses!

Ah, you've been googling the great metropolis of Oamaru. Oamaru is a nice place, and it is fun to explore up really close on Street View on Google Earth.