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Covid casualties: Rodeo, lifestyle festival canned

Essence of Tairāwhiti organisers have confirmed they are cancelling the food festival this year and will focus on 2023.

And organisers of the Gisborne Rodeo, due to take place on Saturday, have cancelled the event.

Both have fallen victim to the restrictions imposed by the Government's Covid Protection Framework.

The Essence festival features an array of local growers, producers with educational master classes hosted by chefs and winemakers.

“We made a call in December based on the vaccine rates and how the virus is spreading and how the country was in the traffic light system,” organiser Drew Hill said.

Since New Zealand entered the Covid-19 Protection Framework multiple events have been cancelled and postponed in Gisborne and around the country, most notably the New Year's Eve festival Rhythm and Vines.

“We have made the hard but positive decision that is best for our community and our region. We feel it is appropriate to postpone Essence Of Tairawhiti,” they wrote in a Facebook post.

Event holders felt responsible for keeping the community safe and would rather put people before profits.

“Our slogan for our event is ‘our people, our flavours, our region', and we don't want to bring the flavours of Omicron or any other variant to Gisborne-Tairāwhiti.

“We don't want to bring Covid to Gisborne.

At last year's inaugural event, 11 vendors gave out 22 tasters of kai sourced from around Tairāwhiti, and hundreds turned up to sample the “taste of the Coast”.

“The whole event was based on what food you can gather and hunt in our region. It doesn't come from a plastic bag.”

Ticket holders can get a full refund from Ticketfairy or hold on to them for next year's event.

Gisborne Rodeo Association president Kevin Taylor said the association did not have a huge amount of money to pay if the event could not go ahead.

“Over a quarter of the Rodeo Associations are in the same boat and have cancelled,” he said.

Covid and the traffic light system regulations had made it extremely difficult to go ahead with events.

The Gisborne Rodeo could have expected at least 200 rodeo riders and over 1000 attendees, Mr Taylor said. In 2020, the event attracted more than 1200 spectators.

Mr Taylor said there would be a couple of rodeo events in New Zealand in March.

It is the second year in a row the annual Gisborne Rodeo has been cancelled due to Covid. It is usually held between Christmas and New Year.

ON HOLD: East Coast MP Kiri Allan at Essence of Tairawhiti last year cooking up a storm. Organisers of the festival have called it off and say they are now concentrating on 2023. File picture
OFF THE MENU: Fans of bull riding, along with all other adrenalin-pumping rodeo activities will have to wait until the end of the year, after organisers called off the Gisborne Rodeo due to be held on Saturday. Our file picture shows John George Moke.