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Rangiora Winter FEstival organisers . . . Karl Horwarth and Sarah Broughton at the Fools of Desire Cafe in Conway Lane in Rangiora. PHOTO: Shelley Topp

By SHELLEY TOPP

This year’s winter festival, the second annual festival to be celebrated in Rangiora, grew from a small party that snowballed.

The initial idea was to celebrate the opening of Rangiora’s Fools of Desire (F.O.D) Cafe in Conway Lane during December 2015, says Sarah Broughton, a trustee of the Rangiora Festival Charitable Trust and a member of the Rangiora Festival Organising Committee.

“Our company Project Group completed the interior fit-out of F.O.D Cafe,” she said.

The cafe is owned by Fernside couple Karl Horwarth and Elisa Leach.

“After the fit-out we started chatting about having an opening party for the cafe. The idea grew to including the other tenants of the lane as an opening party for Conway Lane (on March 17 last year),” Sarah said.

Karl approached Visit Waimakariri for a grant to fund it and one of the conditions was that the grant had to be used from the start of winter.

“This got us thinking and the idea started to grow and became a town festival celebrating winter and the changes around town,” Sarah said.

“Once Karl secured Farmers as a key sponsor the date was pushed back to coincide with their September 1 opening last year, and we changed the theme slightly to Springing out of Winter and into the new look Rangiora.” The festival was a huge success but this year the organisers have returned to their original idea of a real winter festival.

It begins next Thursday, July 27, with the installation of a synthetic ice-skating rink in the Blake St carpark, and on Friday night the sold-out Winter Palace cocktail evening will be held in a specially decorated, winter-themed marquee in Blake Street, opposite Fools of Desire Cafe in Conway Lane.

The festival is run as a charitable trust with three other trustees, Karl, Nicholette Kilgour and Matt James. Their chosen charity is Big Brothers Big Sisters North Canterbury.

“I am a past ‘Big Sister’ so they are a charity close to my heart and they do amazing work for the kids of Waimakariri,” Sarah said.

“Last year we had about 12 people on the core festival committee (including the trustees) and this year I think we have 18.”

Sarah said she enjoyed “seeing everything come together” at last year’s festival. It was also a lot of fun showing her four-year-old nephew around the festival, “seeing his huge smile” and witnessing all the positivity from everyone involved.

“It is such a joy to be involved in a huge-scale event that creates such a buzz in the community,” she said.

“Last year was our first time ever putting on such a big event and it was a lot of work. This year we’ve put in place some really good structures and I’m looking forward to enjoying the festival and hopefully not worrying so much about things,” she said.

“I work as a project manager during the day managing construction sites for commercial interior fit-outs. My job is pretty busy and sometimes stressful so a lot of the festival work has to be done around it which means long days.

“However I’m very fortunate that I work with my family who are big supporters of community development so I’m able to take the time off to work on the festival when needed.”