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Wedding anniversary carries on regardless, just without the wine festival

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Hamilton couple David and Alaina Balme were hoping to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary at the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival.

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Hamilton couple David and Alaina Balme were hoping to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary at the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival.

Next year’s Marlborough Wine and Food Festival has been cancelled, but a Hamilton couple are coming anyway.

David and Alaina Balme had planned to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary at the country’s oldest wine and food festival in February before it was cancelled this month.

With concerns the festival was too close to harvest, organisers cancelled the 2021 event to protect the wine industry from any possible Covid-19 outbreak.

Alaina Balme said the festival had been on the couple’s bucket list.

READ MORE:
* Cancelling 2021 Marlborough Wine and Food Festival a ‘pity’ for community
* Coronavirus: New Zealand’s ‘original wine festival’ cancelled for first time in 36 years

“We knew it was the oldest food and wine festival in the country, so we thought it’s definitely an area that we’re both interested in, and have been for a long time, so we thought it was a must-do,” Alaina said.

“We thought we would take the opportunity to plan something special and do an adults-only, kids-free, adventure.”

The festival attracts about 8000 people a year.

RICKY WILSON/STUFF/Marlborough Express

The festival attracts about 8000 people a year.

The pair said they were gutted to hear the festival had been cancelled.

“We’d bought tickets, airfares and accommodation, and our friends in Whangārei also had tickets and accommodation sorted, so it was a bit of a blow to us,” David said.

Despite this, David said it did not take long for them to decide to still come to the region.

“We haven’t been to Blenheim before, so we’re quite excited,” he said.

“I’m sure there are still places open and vineyards and things that we can visit, so we are looking forward to it.”

Thousands of Marlburians, many of whom work in the wine industry, attend the festival every year.

RICKY WILSON/STUFF/Marlborough Express

Thousands of Marlburians, many of whom work in the wine industry, attend the festival every year.

He said because the original plan had been to go to the festival, recover on Sunday and go home on the Monday, they did not have too much of a plan for the trip yet.

“So now we’ve got to work out what we want to do. We probably want to go on a tour and see as many vineyards, maybe go on a bike tour,” David said.

“We’re not really even sure what the lay of the land is like if the vineyards are close together, we honestly haven’t done a whole lot of research.”

He said the pair had travelled the South Island “fairly extensively” but most of that was from Christchurch, to the West Coast, and down south.

“With the border closed we can’t go anywhere else, so we are trying to explore New Zealand as much as we can,” David said.

The Balmes plan to attend the festival when it returns in 2022.

RICKY WILSON/STUFF

The Balmes plan to attend the festival when it returns in 2022.

“I did a big bus trip when I was about 14 around the top of the South Island but that was many, many moons ago.

“Unfortunately with the kids [at home], it will be a pretty short visit this time around. We were basically just going to the festival. We do want to have an extended trip at some stage.

“We’re just gutted for Marlborough, it’s obviously a big event that brings in a lot of people so it’s a shame.”

The Balmes are on the VIP wait list for the 2022 Marlborough Wine and Food Festival.

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