Events lost as restrictions bite

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Disappointing day ... Members of the Rangiora Lions Club, from left, Simon Tavener, Rob Duggan and president Tini Lawry, with her granddaughters, Grace Alberts, aged 10, and Victoria Alberts, aged 8, in the empty Waikuku Beach Oval, which was to have been the starting point for the club's popular Ashley River Ramble last Sunday morning. PHOTO: SHELLEY TOPP

By ROBYN BRISTOW

A trail of events across North Canterbury have been cancelled or postponed after the Government increased latest Covid-19 alert levels.

Many of the events are local fundraisers for schools and local organisations.

It is the first time the Amuri A&P Show has been cancelled since 1948.

President Don McLean said the decision was made with great sadness and a heavy heart. While the committee was disappointed, it was forging ahead with a community day on Sunday, March 7, provided the alert level outside of Auckland returns to 1.

There will be a gift lamb competition, the Young Shepherds’ Challenge, showjumping, barrel racing and fun events for children at the free event, which will finish with a community barbecue.

“We really wanted to salvage something,” said Mr McLean, who thanked sponsors and supporters for committing to the organisation for next year’s show.

Hurunui Mayor Marie Black says the cancellation is sad for the district. The show is valued and well supported, and the organising committee had worked hard to ensure it would be a great event, she said.

Organisers of the shearing will hold their competition at the showgrounds on Saturday. They believe they can operate within level 2 restrictions and provide a platform for some shearers, filling the void left by the cancellation of the National Golden Shears.

The Ashley River Ramble, organised by the Rangiora Lions Club as a community fundraiser, was an early casualty last Sunday morning. The club cancelled it because there were few gaps on the calendar to reschedule it.

The Rakahuri Rage, a six-hour team mountainbike relay through the Ashley Rakahuri Regional Park in Rangiora, is also cancelled. It was scheduled for Sunday, March 7.

Tony Kean, marketing manager for the North Canterbury Sport and Recreation Trust, which organises the event, said the difficult decision was made to cancel given that level 2 could be extended beyond 6am on Sunday.

Sixty teams had already entered, with 30 more expected at the start line.

The North Canterbury Wine and Food Festival on Sunday has been postponed until next year, with tickets transferred to March 6, 2022.

Event director Jon Holmes said although it was a tough decision, it was the best way to keep people safe.

“We’re gutted. This was gearing up to be the biggest event yet, with a sell-out crowd of 4500 people.”

The Swannanoa Country Fair, a school fundraiser, also won’t be held. Organisers say it is simply too risky to forge ahead with preparations while hoping for a return to level 1 from 6am Sunday.

Its demise will have a big financial impact on the school, and the projects and learning opportunities it offers. However, options to salvage some elements of the fair, and hold them at a later date, are being considered.