The sound of success

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If anyone should know a thing or two about the ongoing success of Arrowtown’s Autumn Festival – it’s Reg McTaggart. 

The veteran entertainer and sound engineer has worked at every event since it began 26 years ago. 

The Arrowtowner became the only person to be awarded life membership of the nine-day festival – kicking off this weekend – when he clocked up quarter-of-a-century last April. 

“In the past there have been a few rumblings about trying to change things, but part of the event’s popularity is that it has stayed true to its origins,” McTaggart, 65, says. 

“It started out as a festival for locals, by locals, and although there’s been a lot more sponsorship in recent times, the format is pretty much as it has always been.” 

Up to 10,000 people are expected to converge on Arrowtown for the big opening day on Saturday, for a feast of live entertainment and the annual street parade. 

“The Saturday crowd has almost doubled down the years and it’s now a huge day out,” McTaggart says. 

“In the early days, we had sheep racing down the street at lunchtime and an open truck that had a hillbilly band playing on it surrounded by chickens and guinea pigs. 

“I also remember there was once a sponge-baking contest in which someone entered a cake topped with shaving foam instead of cream. 

“These days, health regulations wouldn’t allow anything like that.” 

McTaggart will put in 60 hours-plus this year as a festival soundman. 

He is also president of the Shotover Country Music Club that’s staging various concerts, including a night with top country performer Roger Tibbs on Wednesday.

Check it out in Arrowtown
Tomorrow
Festival art exhibition opening, Lakes District museum, 7.30pm
Saturday
Vintage car display and rally, 9.30-11am
Street theatre with Sir R Wolley, 10.30am
Timaru Dixieland Jazz Band, 11am-12pm
The Heartleys, 12.50-1.50pm
Festival street parade, 2pm
70s Disco Inferno, 7.30pm
Sunday
Vintage car display, 10am-12pm
Mind, body and soul expo, 10am-4pm
Shotover Country Music Club concert, 1pm
Kids’ cooking classes,
3.30-5pm
Company on Parade music
and comedy show, 7.30pm
Monday
Street entertainment, 12-1pm
Arrowtown School PTA Autumn Festival quiz, 7.30pm
Company on Parade music and comedy show, 7.30pm
Tuesday
Street entertainment,
12-1pm
Senior citizen’s afternoon tea, 1.30-3pm
Clown Ricardo’s Circus, 3.30-4pm
Guy Cater’s ultimate comedy show, 7.30pm
Wednesday
Bikes 4 Fun workshop
(unicycle lessons), 3.30-5pm
An Autumn Night in Arrowtown
with Roger Tibbs, 8pm
Thursday, April 22
High Tea with TV cook
Jo Seagar, 3-4.30pm
Autumnal entertaining
with Jo Seagar, 7.30pm
Friday, April 23
Arrowtown Bowling Club mixed tournament, 9.30am
Arrowtown School disco, 5.30pm
Mactodd Art 2 Wear fashion show, 7.30pm
Saturday, April 24
Central Lakes Trust Harvest Picnic, 10am-3pm
Alta skateboard workshop,
12-3pm
Allan Hamilton Wines
Masquerade Ball, 7.30pm
Sunday, April 25
ANZAC Day commemorations, 10.30am
Arrowtown Golf Club Festival Tournament, 1pm
The Great Arrowtown Variety Concert, 7.30pm