A busking violinist with a dancing cat, and Kaitrin McMullan the storytelling puppeteer met the crowds as they headed for the main wharf. I wasn’t quite late, but people had already steamed in on the Monarch and the Vivian J, or arrived by train thanks to the Taieri Gorge Railway.
The crowd was festive, and I sat down to my seafood feast flanked by a family with young children, two kindly looking grandparent types, and some university students. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the sunshine, seafood and live music.
The entertainment went well beyond the food. A 6 metre tank full of wildlife from the Otago Harbour, a salmon hatchery and a touching tank from the Portobello Westpac Aquarium, seemed to have magnetic qualities. Especially when it came to children and those still in touch with their inner child. I’m amazed that an over enthusiastic Dad still has his fingers, after an unfortunate episode with the gold coins in the paddle crab tank.
The wharf was also home to one of the best NZ Police PR events that I’ve ever seen. Local constables held a children's fishing competition, supplying both the bait and fishing lines. As with the paddle crab tank, I think it was the parents who had the most fun. Although, there were children everywhere and the surf lifeguards patrolling the wharf stayed ever vigilant. I can confirm that no little people went for a swan dive into the Port waters, although a university student did swim naked after losing a bet.
Various people had dressed up as sea creatures and were wandering around - bi-pedal fish, penguins and an octopus definitely added to the show. Celebrity Chefs Bevan Smith and Judith Cullen made cooking look easy in front of the crowds, and He Waka Kotuia rocked it out with a very professional kapa haka presentation. Sam Hunt mesmerised the crowd proving that the flame has not gone out on his poetical style, and the Heavy Eights had people up and dancing.
I left the event with lines from Sam Hunt roaming round my mind, slightly sunburnt and stuffed with seafood. All I can say is, congratulations to the organising committee, it was a day that Port Chalmers can be proud off, and I can’t wait till next year.