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Opening the doors . . . Looking forward to a bigger Meet the Maker event this year are (from left) Waitaki District Council business attraction recovery manager Melanie Jones and organisers Jane Thompson and Helen Riley-Duddin. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

There will be even more makers to meet at this year’s Meet the Maker, following a successful trial run in and around Oamaru last year.

Last year’s event was run as a fundraiser for Fenwick School, with 16 places to visit, and was organised in a short space of time.

Lead organiser Jane Thompson said this year there would be about 40 artists or “makers” taking part, and the event would run over two days at Labour Weekend, as part of the Waitaki Arts Festival.

“So it’s completely different organisation from last year. Last year it was sort of six weeks from when Helen [Riley-Duddin] and I decided that yes we could do it, until it happened.

“This year we had our first meeting in about February, and it’s on at the end of October,” Ms Thompson said.

“I approached Frances McElhinney at the Opera House after last year’s event, thinking, ‘oh this might be a really good way to lessen the load for me, and get more support around it’.”

Being part of the arts festival also meant the event was promoted nationwide.

“Because the programme goes out for that nationally and there’s sort of advertising nationally, like in Kia Ora magazine, North & South and The Listener, and all that sort of thing, so it really gives it more exposure.”

The Waitaki District Council, Tourism Waitaki, and the Opera House were supporting the event, which was a great opportunity to attract people from outside the district, Ms Thompson said.

“Last year, we had people from Dunedin, and Ashburton, and I think possibly Christchurch, but because we’ve got things organised much earlier, and we’ve got a big programme, and it’s going to be advertised nationally, it gives people the opportunity to go, ‘hey this is on, we could go down there, it looks really cool’.”

This year, the event would be free, although some artists would be running paid workshops.

There would also be a communal space in town, which was yet to be decided, for artists who did not want people coming to their home, or did not have a suitable space for visitors, she said.

“Sort of like an art gallery.”

The event would run between 10am and 4pm on Saturday and Sunday, with each artist or maker specifying the hours they were open.

“Some are open the whole time both days, some are open only maybe part of the time on each day, or just a set time on one day.

“So you can put together a bit of an itinerary and visit the ones you want. And there’s people from Palmerston, out to Five Forks and Duntroon, and of course all around Oamaru and Kakanui.”

Some businesses taking part in the weekend included Inch Valley Preserves at Dunback, a glassmaker in Palmerston, Oasis Oamaru – who showcased a lot of local artists – and Lance Streeter, of Streeter Concepts, she said.

“He’s sort of a maker in his own right.”

Another new maker this year was Dunedin-based hot chocolate manufacturer Coko Lounge, which was looking to expand into Oamaru and have its manufacturing base and a hot chocolate lounge here, she said.

“Last year, everybody who was a participant had just such an amazing day.

“You know, it was really great for them to meet their customers, and obviously sell work as well … Some of them sold what they would normally sell in a year, on the day.

“So it was really good for them and for most people in the region, they’re going to know some of these people, but there’ll be so many that they won’t know.

“So it’s a really good opportunity just to see what amazing talent there is lurking in the region.”