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Big day out . . . Victorian Fete co- ordinator Frances McMillan is encouraging the whole community to come out and enjoy the fete next Sunday. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Supporting local and keeping things close to home is an underlying theme of this year’s Network Waitaki Victorian Fete, co-ordinator Frances McMillan says.

“We’re trying to keep it a little bit more local this year, to support local artists in the wake of Covid,” she said.

Ms McMillan said a healthy crowd was expected for next Sunday’s festivities, with accommodation bookings as busy as other years and online marketing numbers up.

“It’s all up. It’s looking like we’re getting a lot of domestic tourism from Dunedin, Timaru and Wanaka, which is exciting. It’s really great.”

The day would be full of “non-stop entertainment” running from 10am to 4pm.

“I think we’re going to have higher numbers this year because everybody is looking for an event to go to, and just a reason to celebrate. And just the location – surrounded by beautiful Victorian buildings, dressing up and having a fun time.”

Local band Dee May and the Saints would be playing, along with Waimate musician Jed Jefferies.

“We’ve got street performance from [Christchurch entertainer] Mullet Man and acrobatics from the Twisty Twins.”

This is Ms McMillan’s fifth year as fete co-ordinator.

“We’ve got an incredible bunch of volunteers,” she said. The event could not run without them, she said.

People who really want to get into the spirit of the day should dust off their stone sawing or whistling skills for the competitions, either in adult and youth categories.

There is even the gurning competition, which involves making funny or grotesque faces.

“It’s very Victorian,” Ms McMillan said.

There is also the return of the Scotts Brewing Co-sponsored beard and moustache growing competition, which is being judged by Mandy Mayhem, from Waitati.

Although tourism numbers were looking great, Ms McMillan also urged locals to come out for the day with their families.

“We encourage people to dress up and have a good time, and it’s a good time to support local events.”

From 11am on Saturday, there will be an opportunity for families and children to make their own instruments at Smith’s Grainstore. Then on fete day they can perform in the Backyard Family Band Show with Little Chuck The One Man Skiffle Machine, from Christchurch.

“He plays around five instruments at once, and he’ll also be doing a children’s street show on the Sunday.”

There would be a lot of local and artisan stalls, as well as some great street food, she said.

The fete is the annual fundraiser for the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust, with all proceeds going towards maintenance and restoration of built heritage in the precinct.

Tickets are $10 for adults and free for under-18s.