Close to 6000 people rocked up to the inaugural Queenstown Blues & Roots Festival on Saturday.
On a fine day, following a damp Anzac Day, an appreciative crowd heard seven acts including Elvis Costello and The Imposters and The Doobie Brothers along with top New Zealand bands Fly My Pretties and The Black Seeds.
Queenstown act The Killer Seas, which won a competition prior, opened the show.
The Events Centre, ringed by food vendors, created an excellent amphitheatre for the 11-hour festival, which promoter Grant Hilton hailed as very successful.
Hilton admits he was probably brave putting on an outdoor event on April 26: “However someone was shining down on us”.
Hilton says the festival’s timing is influenced by Australia’s Byron Bay Blues & Roots festival, which Elvis Costello and The Doobie Brothers also played at before the Queenstown gig.
Next year’s Queenstown Blues & Roots Festival is scheduled for April 11 and the year after it will be on April 3.
Hilton says he and Queenstown hospitality professional Barry Ellis, who is also a director of the event, were thrilled with the feedback they’d had about how well the day had gone.
“We worked very hard as a team with some wonderful support from this community and we’re very pleased with what we delivered as a ‘first-up’ show; I think we surprised a few people,” Hilton says.
“All the artists were stoked with the venue, the crowd and with Queenstown, and we’ve had some great feedback with phone calls and text messages all day from people who came or who were involved.
“People came from all parts of the country and made it a long weekend in Queenstown, and couldn’t believe they were in such a magical outdoor venue with The Remarkables mountain range in the background, the autumnal gold of trees dotted around, and every now and again a jet would take off or a small plane fly behind the stage to land on the crosswind runway.”
Hilton said he has to thank Ellis and his family, all the volunteers and believers, and suppliers such as Tom Tom Productions, Mann Catering, Cougar Security and Southern Safety for their hard work on the event.
“If people thought this year was good, we’ll knock their socks off next year. We’re already having so many amazing acts being offered to us.”
“It was a huge day for all and we’ll be back even bigger and better in 2015,” Hilton adds.