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Lively line-up for Xmas whitebait fest

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Lively line-up for Xmas whitebait fest

The whitebait won’t be the only star of the show at the inaugural Great West Coast Whitebait Festival in Christchurch.

As well as an estimated 300kg of wriggly white gold, the region’s newest food festival - to be held on Saturday, the 20th of October - has attracted a number of high profile individuals to entertain attendees on the day.

Put together by the team behind the iconic Wildfoods Festival, Westland District Council marketing manager Sonya Matthews says the Great West Coast Whitebait Festival promises the same quirky style of down-to-earth entertainment and food-focused fun, built around the legendary West Coast whitebait.

"As well as a number of bands performing throughout the day, we are excited to announce a lively line-up of characters to keep attendees entertained," says Ms Matthews. "We will be hosting the first ever Great ‘Bait Debate, with Gary McCormick, Joe Bennett, Jim Hopkins and David Round arguing the moot ‘is West Coast whitebait overrated?’.

"In keeping with the Coaster’s tradition of yarn-spinning, there will also be a Speakers’ Corner, featuring Tony Kokshoorn, Robin Judkins, resident whitebait expert Dr Mike Hickford, and impromptu performances by the Court Jesters called The Complete History of the West Coast in Ten Minutes."

Well-known local chef and restaurateur Phillip Kraal has also been confirmed as guest chef in the Whitebait Cooking Kitchen - an area dedicated to culinary demonstrations. "As one of New Zealand’s most celebrated chefs, Phillip is well-known for his innovative food design," says Ms Matthews. "Many of his recipes have an Asian fusion influence, resulting in a modern twist on old favourites. We also have a celebrity whitebait cook-off planned at midday, which is sure to draw a crowd."

To accompany the whitebait - enough for over 9,000 patties - there will be all kinds of other gourmet delicacies on offer, including wild food, fine food, seafood and game. A range of beers, cider and quality wines will also be available from Monteith’s and Tohu Wines.

A live auction is planned for mid-afternoon, with a number of big-ticket items. To recognise the generous hospitality extended by the people of Canterbury, the Festival organisers plan to donate the proceeds of the onsite auctions to the ‘Rebuild Christchurch’ fund.

"The Great West Coast Whitebait Festival is all about celebrating the uniquely Kiwi delicacy that we just can’t seem to get enough of each spring," says Ms Matthews. "For the foodies there’s the whitebait; almost half a ton provided the river gods are smiling on us. But it’s also about organising a great day out for the people of Canterbury.

"It’s an opportunity for our neighbors to spin a few yarns, listen to some tunes, net themselves some goodies at the charity auction, and enjoy a taste of some of the best foods this little country of ours can dish up."

The inaugural Great West Coast Whitebait Festival will be held from 10am - 5.30pm on Saturday 20 October 2012 at Cranmer Square in Christchurch. Tickets to the event are on sale from www.whitebaitfest.co.nz.

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