Last updated 13:00 23/01/2012SharePrintText SizeHIGH HATS:
Amba Payne, left, and Kat Selwood, of Nelson, celebrate in style at the Festival Nelson Lakes Madhatters' Dinner Party beside Lake Rotoiti on Saturday night.St Arnaud shone in all its glory at the weekend, drawing thousands to the inaugural Festival Nelson Lakes.
A non-stop programme all weekend saw crowds gather in the alpine sunshine for lakeside activities and a market on Saturday, then gather indoors yesterday for workshops and a community market as a weather change brought chilly squalls.
The festival was based at Kerr Bay on the shore of Lake Rotoiti, but made use of the wider area's natural features and scenic attractions.
A Madhatters' Dinner Party on Saturday night catered by Nelson chef Grant Dicker saw two Nelson women rise to the occasion.
Nelson hairstylist Amba Payne and Nelson preschool teacher Kat Selwood turned heads as they walked to the dinner party in elaborate hats and gowns.
Ms Selwood's family owns a bach at the lake, and they decided to turn the weekend outing into a glamorous occasion.
"We love to support local Nelson events. Anything that requires dressing up and going a bit mad, we're there," Ms Payne said.
It took her 10 hours to make her hat, made of dozens of tiny hats and hairpieces.
A highlight of the festival was a crowd of around 200 being lulled into relaxation beside the lake on Saturday night for music by Golden Bay duo Caitlin and Sika. The audience then wrapped up warmly and laughed out loud at an open-air film, the 1959 Danny Kaye and Louis Armstrong classic The Five Pennies.
Destination Nelson Lakes secretary Helen Campbell, who was part of the team organising the festival, said the aim was to showcase the best of what the lake had to offer.
"We're really, really happy with the way it went. People came especially, including from the North Island and from Christchurch, and we had the normal travellers passing through who had heard about it and stayed."
Ms Campbell said organisers estimated that between 2500 and 3000 people attended over the whole weekend. There had not yet been a chance for a formal debrief, but it was likely that the festival would be held again, although in a different format.
Among the various events visitors could take part in, archery lessons with Kikiwa couple Ed and Nicky Shaw proved popular.
Dovedale brothers Baxter, 7, Otto, 5, and Bruno, 3, Richards all made impressive attempts at the bullseye, with the older brothers saying archery was "great". Otto is now keen to try to shoot a hare.
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