4. GYPSY FAIR
25 years of Gypsy Fair sets up on the railway land this Saturday and Sunday.
Why is the back of Gavin Mckenzie’s 1949 converted Ford bus all ‘‘Hairy’’?
The Gypsy Fair veteran of 21 years is back in town with the rest of the rovers this weekend to mark 25 years of the travelling craft market. As for the ‘‘Hairy’’ back end of his bus, well, that’s a bit of a trip down memory lane.
The Hair mural dates from 1996, when his bus was used to help publicise the very last production staged in the old Palmerston North Opera House, where Farmers now is on Church St.
The show was Palmerston North Operatic’s (now Abbey Musical Theatre) Hair, the ‘tribal rock musical’ directed by Robert Rimmer. The production featured Marilyn Byers Ali a former singer with American 60s tribute group The Crystals and a guest performer at the International Festival of the Arts in Wellington that year. Another prominent guest performer was Dalvanius Prime – he of the Patea Maori Club’s smash hit Poi-E.
‘‘They used the bus as a mobile billboard to help promote the show,’’ Gavin recalls.
He’s surprised that the mural on his house-bus has lasted 20 years as it was only applied with whatever was around. ‘‘Poster paint in places,’’ he reckons.
To find out that there is another production of the show in the wings has also taken him by surprise.
Gavin says he ended up with all sorts of paraphernalia from the 1996 production, though where it all is now, he’s not sure.
The seasoned ‘travelling man’ began as a ‘weekend gypsy’. In the RNZAF stationed at Ohakea, Gavin would ditch his uniform for more colourful and laidback garb
‘‘Sixty-seven years old, and she’s still going strong.’’ Gavin Mckenzie
during his time off and leave, until he left to sell handcrafts fulltime on the gypsy fair circuit.
His 1949 Ford bus is a one-off prototype, with the chassis from Canada and the coachwork completed in Napier.
‘‘Sixty-seven years old, and she’s still going strong.’’
Gavin has ‘steam-punked’ the interior, and these days, runs a shooting gallery.
Does my Hair look big in this? It’s pure coincidence that Gavin McKenzie’s vintage Gypsy Fair bus turns up as a new production of the ‘tribal rock opera’ prepares to hit the stage.