G'day gourdgeous: Getting ready for the 2024 Arrowtown Autumn Festival, which starts today, are, from left, Arrowtown Brewing Company co-owner Michael Thomas, stilt walker Tiffany Bindon, of Flame Entertainment, and Southern Lakes Highland Pipe Band mem ber Dave Macleod

It’s shaping up to be a banger.

This afternoon, the 38th Arrowtown Autumn Festival will be officially opened, with expectations more than 20,000 people will flock to the historic village over the next four days.

Coinciding with the autumn school holidays and Anzac Day — which many will choose to turn into a long weekend — and adding in a full complement of overseas visitors for the first time since 2019, the town is bracing for impact.

Event coordinator Catherine Fallon says the volunteer committee made the call to cut two days off this year’s festival to make it a bit more manageable, but says it’s going to be ‘‘bigger and brighter’’ than ever this year.

The calendar features more than 40 different events, the majority of which are free, including Saturday’s ever-popular street entertainment, street parade — which will feature about 35 floats, including a 100-person marching band descending from all over the country — and market day.

Fallon says the committee’s indebted to the corporate sponsors, particularly naming sponsor Mora Wines & Artisan Kitchen, who continue to back the landmark event every year.

‘‘We’re obviously a not-for-profit, so we’re not aiming to make money for the event, we’re just trying to get enough funds to sustain us into the future, and then any surplus goes back into community groups.

‘‘I think because we’ve got such an iconic brand now, sponsors come back year-on-year, so fingers crossed it continues.’’

And while there are a host of corporate brands backing the festival, the committee’s fully committed to keeping it as grassroots as possible.

‘‘That’s a real focus … a big discussion, how we keep it grassroots.

‘‘We don’t want to commercialise it, because that’s not what it’s about.

‘‘It’s about getting the community — local entertainers, from preschool age to high school and adults — on stage, giving them a chance to
perform in front of a crowd.

‘‘Most people know someone who’s performing, and that’s what it’s all about.’’

Fallon encourages those wanting to make the most of Saturday’s bumper schedule to ride their bikes, walk or catch the bus, noting parking is very limited.

For the full programme, see arrowtownautumnfestival.co.nz

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