Thursday, 17 October 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Scallop Festival back with a vengeance

Scallop Festival Saturday dawned with a brilliantly bright and sunny day, matched by the great moods of the festivalgoers who lined up in the newly updated Taylors Mistake to check in and grab their wine glasses for an afternoon of fun. 

With a break last year due to the town upgrade, the festival returned even bigger and better than before. The new layout, using a combination of Taylors Mistake and the marina reclamation area was a winner, allowing a more relaxed and spread out feel for the attendees who had ample room to kick off their shoes and put a rug down for an afternoon in the sun, feasting and listening to great music.

The standard of fancy dress also appeared to move up a notch this year, with some very creative outfits ranging from snazzy tropical all-in-one sets to some clever pink ladies, some very good t-shirts and the unmissable scallop head gear, which could have been mistaken for toilet lids until getting much closer. Another stand out was the random but certainly creative man dressed as a shoe. The standard of competition for best dressed was definitely much higher this year and many festival goers spent their time taking pictures of all of the colourful garb. 

The standard of food on offer was also quite high, with a variety of hot, cold and raw scallop delicacies, and plenty of other choices for the non-scallop lover. Although there were the inevitable queues, those waiting to be served were jovial and social and, for seasoned festival-goers, this is part and parcel of the day.

We spent a lot of our day out in front of the stage on the point, enjoying some very good music and making some new friends.  Although there was a bit of a breeze, it was pleasant, and the sounds were great.  I even managed to get down some raw scallops and kina from the Hot Water Beach Surf Lifesaving Club for the first time, a feat of courage which I was happy to do for the cause. 

The New World cooking tent was standing room only for large portions of the day with the line-up of celebrity chefs, not to mention some amazing giveaways, keeping food lovers hooked. With a focus on simple, easy to recreate at home dishes, the audience really appreciated the down to earth approach, using ingredients that are all readily available locally. It was cool seeing Kuaotunu based Uncle Dunkles Chilli getting a mention as Karena and Kasey Bird of Masterchef fame took some advice from the crowd on how best to incorporate it into their scallop dish.

We stayed throughout the afternoon, until the legendary Vegas Brown Band farewelled us with a fantastic line-up of sing at the top of your lungs classics that the crowd happily embraced.

As we took up a more permanent seat at one of our great local eating and drinking establishments, it was lovely to see that many of the town’s hospitality businesses has also put on live music and added to the vibe of the day. Whitianga really put on a great show on Saturday and many of the out of town visitors we encountered were very impressed with what our town had to offer. Fiona Kettlewell and the team should be very proud of what they have achieved this year, the Scallop Festival is come back with a vengeance.  We are so lucky to have this wonderful event back to kick off our spring season.

Pictured: The celebrity chefs who attended last Saturday’s Whitianga Scallop Festival with the owners of New World Whitianga, the festival’s main sponsors. From the left - Aaron Gascoigne,Gareth Stewart, Ray McVinnie, Sara and Kerry Stanley (New World Whitianga), Kasey and Karena Bird, and Tracey-Lee Hooton (master of ceremonies).

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.