The absence of an event stalwart could only partially dampen the fun for families in the Catlins at the weekend.
Long-standing Papatowai Big Dig organiser Wayne Allen was unable to attend the traditional New Year’s Eve carnival on Saturday due to family illness, but co-organiser Peter Hill (80) said he was there in spirit.
Katie Milne (7), of Invercargill, takes pole position in the sack race. PHOTOS: RICHARD DAVISON”Wayne’s been such an intrinsic part of this event for the past 30 years so I know he’s wishing us well for today, and will no doubt be reviewing video of the event afterwards to ensure proper protocol was followed,” Mr Hill joked.
“It’s not quite the same without him but, as you can see, the kids are having a wonderful time which is what it’s all about.”
He said both he and Mr Allen expected to be back as usual next year.
Carnival organiser Fiona Walker said the contributions of Mr Hill and Mr Allen were typical of the community spirit behind the event.
“It started as a fundraiser for the local playground, and that tradition still continues today.
“It’s a tried and tested formula for old-fashioned family fun, and the community down here always gets right behind it.”
She said a potato-growing competition this year had brought out the competitive juices.
“There’s about 25 entrants, and we have multiple categories that we’ll be judging today, both for prizes, and for local bragging rights.”
Sisters (from left) Danni (16), Sophie (18), and Rebecca (19) Clark man the chocolate wheel with mum Linda Flawn and Shay the dog, all of Drummond, in a long-standing family tradition at the Papatowai Carnival in the Catlins on New Year’s Eve.Third-generation carnival committee member Linda Flawn, of Drummond, said she was proud her daughters were carrying on a grand family tradition of overseeing the chocolate wheel.
“My nana was our first generation at the carnival, and she and her partner Bill used to boil up a giant copper over a campfire to make tea and coffee for everyone.
“Then my dad Bruce used to build the bonfire, back in the days when size and safety were no object, and you could have two-storey flames all night.
“And now my girls help me run the chocolate wheel.”
Daughter Rebecca Clark said her earliest memories were of winning soft toys on the wheel and taking part in carnival centrepiece the Big Dig.
“Sadly we’re a bit too big for the dig nowadays. But we do get to spin the wheel.”