Last week saw Oamaru’s iconic annual Victorian Heritage Festival, and by all accounts this one was a tremendous success! The weather gods smiled on us for the most part, so the outdoor activities took place without a hitch, including the penny farthing races, the street parade and the ever-popular town photo in front of the Opera House. Only the hot-air balloons really suffered from less-than-perfect weather in the early mornings, though they did manage a few flights, affording the spectacular spectacle of beautiful balloons flying over the North Otago scenery.
The Fête, which is the culmination of the days-long celebration of all things Victorian and historic about Oamaru, was a humdinger, too. Approximately 5000 visitors came through the stiles to see dozens of vendors, performers and activities along Harbour and Tyne Streets in our Historic Precinct, some of whom were new to the event. Among the new ones were the amazingly talented Skye Broberg and Pascal Ackermann, whose street-side performances combined contortion, acrobatics and circus-style antics; Ruahine Ports, whose all-NZ port-style fruit wines were a huge hit with the crowds; and Scotts Brewery, the first Oamaru-based brewery in 108 years, newly moved from Auckland with an expanded range of beers that include an excellent porter, a delicious amber ale and several others, and Housekeepers Design, a new shop in the former Loan & Mercantile Exchange Building, selling all sorts of items for the home.
Among the other regular events that took place during the festival were Pen-y-bryn Lodge’s Victorian High Tea, where 40 guests, mostly in period costume, were treated to dishes reminiscent of a late 19th Century tea, including pork pie, chicken terrine, jellied beetroot salad and blackcurrant trifle; an Empire Ball, where costumed guests danced the evening away while listening to music of the period; countless talks about the history of the area and the role of Oamaru in the development of New Zealand; and much more.
The celebrations grow bigger and bigger each year, so if you missed this year’s event, plan to be here next year and enjoy the party atmosphere!