Old pub’s glory days are back

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Queenstown’s famous lakefront Eichardt’s Tavern will be revived in all its glory for the 40th Winter Festival.

Local caterers Ann and John Mann, the institution’s last pub-licans before it was wiped out by the 1999 flood, host new festival event ‘Eichardt’s Tavern Revisited’ at the Queenstown Memorial Centre on Friday, June 27.

In what promises to be a raucous trip down memory lane, it’ll feature breakfast, lunch, nods to six o’clock closing and Ski Whizz videos of yesteryear – and more.

American Express Winter Festival organisers approached the Manns to revive Eichardt’s because the idea for the first festival in 1975 was spawned during drinks across its trademark leaners.

In the 1990s, the Manns also conceived and organised long-running festival events like Top Bloke and the Old Farts Ball that ran in the former Queenstown Memorial Hall.

The refurbished Memorial Centre will be decorated to look like Eichardt’s, complete with a lake view, by long-time local Dennis Deavoll.

John Mann says the all-day-and-night programme, from 7am till midnight, has been designed to “touch base with just about every group that used Eichardt’s or has a fond memory of it”.

Locals will be encouraged to recount their Eichardt’s memories during ‘breakfast bites’.

Senior citizens will be invited to morning tea before first drinks will be served at 11am.

A ladies lunch will be named in honour of the first publican, Julia Eichardt, who’ll come back to life to reflect on her times with the last female publican, Ann Mann. A ‘Julia Eichardt Women in Business’ award will also be announced.

At 3pm, couples who met at Eichardt’s can renew their wedding, or divorce, vows.

The Manns’ annual oyster run from Bluff will be remembered with the serving of oysters at a Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF) Office Party at 4pm – John will encourage offices to again put up the signs that used to go up: ‘Sorry, closed, gone to Eichardt’s’.

The days of 6 o’clock and 10 o’clock pub closing will be remembered at both those times.

John says a Top Folk Award, to recognise Queenstown’s “real contributors”, will also be announced.

A big screen will replay highlights of the popular 1990s Ski Whizz videos and then show the Super 15 Highlanders versus Chiefs rugby game from a recreated Eichardt’s grandstand.

“There’ll be blasts from the past in terms of entertainment,” John says.

Other institutions coming back include horizontal bungy, the pool table, bar leaners and memorabilia like the caricature collection.

“We’ll try to get the mud off most of the stuff,” John says.

All-day general admission is $20 and tickets for breakfast or lunch are also $20 each.