Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dispatch 62 Victorian Heritage Festival

17-21 November 2010
Every year in November, Oamaru relives its Victorian heyday and puts on a several day festival in celebration. The festival features a variety of activities including tours of the special limestone buildings and other Victorian era features of the town, little readings and presentations in a Victorian style, an afternoon band concert at which one is expected to don Victorian garb, a ball at which the women must be in costume and men in tuxedos or uniforms of the Victorian era, plays, a parade, pennyfarthing bicycle racing and, finally, a street fair with all manner of crafts and food for sale as well as demonstrations, street performances, etc. We had been eagerly anticipating this one great event for which Oamaru is well-known.

On one of the evenings we attended a one act play and soiree called “Sheeps Ahoy”. It was an amateur, amusing bit of theater. The one act play featured 3 women dressed as sheep discussing the best way to promote their wool—they came up with the idea of crocheted wool sails for the America’s Cup boat. The only problem, in the end, was that they should have knitted rather than crocheted because the wind went right through the sails. Cute. The second half was literally a Victorian style soiree with about 8 people doing various parlour entertainments—reading aloud, playing the piano and singing. It was quaint and entertaining.

Richard was more able to enjoy the weekday activities and captured the amazing dresses that the women put on. People take this festival very seriously. On the weekend we saw the parade and went to the street fair which ended a bit early when the skies opened up into a torrential downpour, but otherwise was very enjoyable. Walking the streets of the historic district, seeing even the children in Victorian garb, one could almost imagine what the town was like at its pinnacle. Small towns can be so wonderful at times like this.

See the link to see more pictures than the above samples.