Ru­ral Games come to Manawatu

The Tribune (NZ) - - ENJOY -

The an­nual Hilux New Zealand Ru­ral Games are a great fam­ily week­end of tra­di­tional sports and live en­ter­tain­ment and this year they are com­ing to Manawatu, mov­ing from Queen­stown, their home of the first two years.

The Square, Palmer­ston North, is the venue for the Games which will be held on March 11 and 12 but will kick off with the Run­ning of the Wools in Feild­ing on Fri­day March 10.

‘‘We looked at sev­eral venues but we were very im­pressed with Manawatu’s pre­sen­ta­tion, the ‘can-do’ at­ti­tude of the two may­ors and their coun­cils and be­ing in the cen­tre of New Zealand’s ‘mid­dle mil­lion’ and of a ru­ral heart­land worked in its favour too,’’ says Games founder Steve Hol­lan­der.

More than 10,000 peo­ple are ex­pected to turn out over the two days to watch na­tional and trans-Tas­man cham­pi­onships for tra­di­tional sports like wood chop­ping, speed shear­ing, speed tree climb­ing and speed fenc­ing.

More than 200 com­peti­tors will take part in a num­ber of cham­pi­onship events, sev­eral of them na­tional and world cham­pi­ons bat­tling for pres­ti­gious ti­tles.

The egg throw­ing and catch­ing, High­land Games heav­ies, speed shear­ing and the re­vi­talised coal shov­el­ling are likely to be among pub­lic favourites.

‘‘We’ve re­birthed coal shov­el­ling whereby par­tic­i­pants are rac­ing the clock to shovel a ton of coal into a hop­per,’’ says Steve.

‘‘It will be tough, but it will be ex­cit­ing as we’ve got West Coast min­ers com­ing up to face off against the Manawatu Tur­bos and other sports­peo­ple.

‘‘These are young, fit, pow­er­ful guys who think they can beat these 50-year-old coal min­ers, so we’ll see what hap­pens!’’

Mean­while, the tra­di­tional ‘‘heav­ies’’ event will see the likes of New Zealand strong­man Reuben de Jong com­pete in the caber toss, stones, farmer’s walk, weight over bar plus a gut-bust­ing trac­tor pull.

As for the egg throw­ing and catch­ing con­test, pro­fes­sional ath­letes from the world of cricket, ath­let­ics, base­ball and soft­ball will at­tempt to suc­cess­fully throw an egg the fur­thest and get their team­mate to catch it cleanly.

There will also be an at­tempt for a new world record.

In 2015 the sur­prise pack­age of ex-All Blacks Jeff Wil­son and Justin Mar­shall took the in­au­gu­ral tro­phy with a new New Zealand record of 61.5m, then New Zealand de­cath­lete Brent Newdick brought along his mate Luke Wainui to poach the ti­tle with 63.3m.

‘‘The egg throw­ing catch is an un­be­liev­able event, I’ve seen soft­baller Ty­ron [Bar­to­rillo] chuck an egg 81m caught by [fel­low soft­baller] Steven [Ratu], now I need them to do that within this com­pe­ti­tion to beat the world record,’’ says Steve.

Back on the sched­ule this year is the sheep dog tri­als, which will see the best dog han­dlers from Manawatu and Wairarapa vie for the ti­tle.

New to the com­pe­ti­tion is the New Zealand Har­ness Rac­ing Gear­ing Up event, where train­ers and driv­ers must gear up a stan­dard bred horse in the fastest pos­si­ble time.

As well as the com­pet­i­tive el­e­ment, the Games will also fea­ture a fun-packed fes­ti­val pro­gramme in­clud­ing live mu­sic, en­ter­tain­ment, lo­cal food and wine and fun ‘have a go’ events for adults and chil­dren alike.

‘‘We’ve got olive stone spit­ting, ap­ple bob­bing, wine bar­rel rac­ing, hay stack­ing and even cow­pat toss­ing.

‘‘This week­end is re­ally go­ing to be a doozy,’’ says Steve.

For more de­tails go to: ru­ral­

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