Weather Unkind To Strawberry Festival

Dramatic contrast with 2013

By Roger Childs

MPH weatherAfter a fine day on Friday, the Kapiti Coast weather was brutal the following day. Then Sunday was beautiful. Unfortunately, the Strawberry Festival, to raise funds for the Mary Potter Hospice (MPH), was on the Saturday when the storm roared into Paraparaumu Beach.

The programme, set around the sale of strawberries and ice cream, and Christmas gifts, was to start at 9.00am and run through to four in the afternoon. A range of bands, music groups and dancers were due to perform and 60 stalls selling food, jewellery, clothing and other goods were set to operated down MacLean Street. Sadly much of what was planned was blown away.

Wild weather spoils the party

MPH StrawberriesLast year the weather was perfect and locals and visitors turned out in their thousands. The takings from the sale of the strawberries and cream, gifts and stalls were over $20,000: a record for the festival. This year according to Paraparaumu Hospice Administrator, Debra Minty, there will only be a few thousand.

Volunteers began setting up around 6.00am when conditions were still dry. However the strong north westerly wind necessitated holding down tents and gazebo supports with full water containers, rocks, blocks of concrete and in one case, a car axle! Some stall holders tried to establish themselves in the main street, but their tables and produce couldn’t cope with the wind gusts of up to 80kph.

The main strawberry tent was centred on Marine Parade at the intersection with MacLean Street and proved stable enough to stay in place. The strawberry and ice cream dispensers and sellers of Christmas gifts, did a remarkably good trade given the conditions and plenty of locals did brave the elements to support the cause.

Many local businesses also supported the festival and PAK’nSAVE once again provided the ice cream and strawberries. Kapiti News was also a major sponsor.

Lunchtime closure

MPH logo 2014It was clear by 11.00 the weather was not going to improve, but in fact deteriorate. At this point the winds picked up and driving rain added to the misery. Two of the bands did perform gamely in the wild weather, but there were few spectators, unlike the hundreds last year. The planned entertainment had to be abandoned before midday.

The MPH volunteers continued dispensing strawberries and cream, and selling gifts through to 12.30 when the festival was officially called off. By this time the heavy rain had set in and the winds showed no sign of abating.

It was a very disappointing end to this year’s strawberry festival, especially after the weeks of planning and the best efforts of over 40 volunteers.