Woodville group gath­ers steam

Manawatu Standard - - NEWS - PAUL MITCHELL

A new Woodville busi­ness pro­mo­tion group is steam­ing its way to­ward a more pros­per­ous fu­ture in the wake of the Manawatu¯ Gorge clo­sure.

State High­way 3 through the gorge was closed on April 24 when a large slip came down and is now shut in­def­i­nitely be­cause of safety con­cerns. The clo­sure has hit busi­nesses in Woodville, the town on the Hawke’s Bay side of the gorge, hard as ve­hi­cles us­ing al­ter­na­tive routes by­pass the town.

Woodville En­ter­prise spokesman Evan Nat­trass said his sec­ond­hand store, the Vik­ing’s Haul, hadn’t been as busy since the gorge closed, so he be­gan in­for­mally float­ing ideas on how to im­prove things with a few other Woodville busi­ness own­ers.

Woodville Districts Vi­sion has since taken the fledg­ling group un­der its wing as a subcom­mit­tee and granted it $2000 as a seed fund.

Vi­sion’s sup­port and the seed fund were a huge first step to­ward suc­cess­fully pulling off their first ma­jor project, a scenic train trip and mar­ket event to draw peo­ple into town, Nat­trass said.

Nat­trass said there had been no sup­port for the town’s strug­gling busi­nesses from the Gov­ern­ment, and un­like Dan­nevirke and Pahiatua, there was no lo­cal Cham­ber of Com­merce to help them. So, the de­cided to take mat­ters into their own hands.

‘‘You can say ‘poor me, poor me’, wring your hands and pull your hair, but at the end of the day, you’ll be in the same po­si­tion. Noth­ing’s go­ing to change un­less you get stuck in and change it.’’

The Feild­ing and District Steam Rail So­ci­ety heard about the group and got in touch to see what it could do to help.

The so­ci­ety reg­u­larly or­gan­ised scenic train trips as a fundraiser for the club and of­ten at­tracted hun­dreds of peo­ple from around the lower North Is­land.

‘‘They sug­gested in­stead of just go­ing through the gorge and show­ing peo­ple the sights, this time they the could bring them in [to town],’’ Nat­trass said.

Their Novem­ber fundraiser was ex­pected to pull in 500 peo­ple and the so­ci­ety of­fered to add in a three-hour stop in Woodville to the event.

Woodville En­ter­prise planned to greet vis­i­tors with live en­ter­tain­ment and a mar­ket-day.

Nat­trass said they hoped to cre­ate a fes­ti­val at­mos­phere, with a ‘‘Mad Hat­ter’’ theme and prizes for peo­ple wear­ing the mad­dest hat.

‘‘We want peo­ple to have a good time.

‘‘So when they leave, they’re want­ing to come back and telling peo­ple Woodville is a great place to go, not just to go through.’’

Nat­trass hoped the les­sons learned from run­ning the event could be ap­plied to new events to keep pro­mot­ing Woodville.

Evan Nat­trass

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