Entertainment to be Victorian Fete ‘kicker’

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

And that’s why the unofficial wrap party for Oamaru’s Victorian Heritage Celebrations, the Network Waitaki Victorian Fete, being held on Sunday, has been a beloved fixture on Oamaru’s calendar since 1989.

Nevertheless, fete co-ordinator Frances McMillan and her sidekick, stall-holder co-ordinator Alice Hore, cannot help but find minor improvements to make to the Victorian street party every year.

Every year, there was something that had organisers excited, Ms Hore said. This year it was the music.

“I’ve got to be honest, the entertainment is the kicker this year – I’m pretty excited about The Eastern headlining the Victorian Fete”, she said.

“I’m probably going to fan-girl”.

Ms McMillan, who is in her fourth year as fete co-ordinator, said “nostalgia” and history contributed to the success of the Harbour, Wansbeck and Tyne Sts street party.

The event served as the major fundraiser for the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust, raising more than $15,000 a year for heritage projects in the Victorian precinct, she said. It would include beard and moustache competitions, girning, whistling and stone-sawing, but there would also be a “beer quarter” featuring Dunedin brewery New New New and craft beer favourites Craftwork Brewery, of Oamaru.

And unicorns.

Some of the “minor tweaks” to the event included a new layout for Tyne St, allowing better access to shops, and creating the same sense of activity that Harbour St achieves when about 5000 people, dressed in Victorian garb, or not, turn the Victorian Precinct into a bustling market.

The queen of Victorian Oamaru Julie (Queenie) Walker and Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher will open the day at noon, two hours after the gates open, and all-day music will be complemented by Morris dancers and pipe bands.

This year’s Victorian Heritage Celebrations theme is “Wheels” and the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust’s Forrester and Lemon Memorial Lecture, “Wheels of Change – Stories of Victorian Heroines”, will be given by University of Canterbury professor Katie Pickles.

The Victorian Heritage Celebrations began on Wednesday, with an official grand opening at the Oamaru Opera House yesterday. The annual “great photo opportunity” on the opera house steps and the Crombie & Price Victorian Garden Party are on today and the grand street parade and the 25th heritage bicycle championships in Tyne St in the afternoon.