Drags pull out of fes­ti­val

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - HAN­NAH MCLEOD AND JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

A drag race meet­ing that has been a fea­ture of the Alexan­dra Blos­som Fes­ti­val for over 25 years has been can­celled.

South­ern Drag­ways pres­i­dent Rae Wil­son said the de­ci­sion to can­cel Thunder Sun­day was not made lightly. The club was told in Novem­ber the event could not be run as a bring-your-own-al­co­hol event be­cause it was held on coun­cil land. But they had since dis­cov­ered the costs in­volved with or­gan­is­ing an al­co­hol booth, get­ting a spe­cial al­co­hol li­cense, and pro­vid­ing fenc­ing and se­cu­rity would mean there would be lit­tle or no profit for the kinder­garten or the club. He un­der­stood the po­lice had not been in favour of the event be­ing al­co­hol free, be­cause of the dif­fi­culty in en­sur­ing peo­ple were not bring­ing al­co­hol in.

The coun­cil had also said the drags could not be held at the air strip from next year on­wards, be­cause the aero club had plans to re-seal the tar­mac, and more res­i­dences were to be built around it. The event usu­ally at­tracted about 80 cars and thou­sands of spec­ta­tors, and was the big­gest event in the club’s cal­en­dar.

‘‘It has been our ma­jor fundraiser for years ... [I have] con­cerns about the fu­ture for South­ern Drag­ways.’’

Alexan­dra Blos­som Fes­ti­val or­gan­iser Martin McPher­son said they had tried ‘‘des­per­ately’’ to work with South­ern Drag­ways but in­creased com­pli­ance costs put it in the ‘‘too hard and un­af­ford­able bas­ket’’.

‘‘It is the regime we are work­ing un­der and it is im­pact­ing on a num­ber of events. The po­lice wanted some con­trol on con­sump­tion. The only way is to ban BYO or run it as a dry event. There were costs as­so­ci­ated with both those op­tions.’’

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