Mahurangi riverside dinner the quintessential Warkworth event
Event date: Saturday 23 February 2008
Few of those attending last February’s dinner beside the Mahurangi River could have escaped the realisation that Warkworth had finally acquired its obvious natural annual event.
Dave Parker, now a Rodney District councillor, had slaved for decades to keep the town’s Kowhai Festival afloat, only to be rewarded with steadily declining interest. In marked contrast, the response to his idea of the entire town of Warkworth dinning beside its beloved Mahurangi River was unequivocal.
While the goal of breaking a world record might have loomed large for a few, most would certainly have attended had the event’s billing emphasised purely local attributes e.g. Warkworth Riverside Dinner: A nautical mile of merriment along the banks of the Mahurangi.
In the event, the second event is titled the Summerset Falls Warkworth Longest Dinner in appreciation of the financial support from Summerset, developers of retirement villages in 11 locations around Aotearoa, including that near Falls Road, further upstream.
Of course the inclusion of Summerset Falls in the title of the dinner could, long-term, also become geographically appropriate. To capitalise on its location, Warkworth must ultimately develop a promenade that stretches all the way from the falls to the Wilson Cement Works. And that would approach the five kilometres officially registered as the longest dining table, which was set up on Europe’s longest bridge, the Ponte Vasco da Gama, immediately prior to its opening in 1998.
On that occasion, some 16 000 mostly local people and construction workers participated, devouring around ten tonnes of feijoada—now there’s a catering option for the Mahurangi Regatta Prize-Giving & Dance!
Warkworth’s 617 may be paltry compared to Lisbon’s 16 000, but it is a none-the-less impressive crowd of diners. And those who made up that number are bound to shanghai others—Dave’s goal of hitting the one thousand mark is entirely within reach.
This event deserves to break at least local records, given how the proceeds will benefit both the Jane Gifford and Kawau Coastguard—tickets are $70 per person, or $65 when booked as a table seating six or eight.
La Niña and summer is a recipe for sleepless nights for the organisers of open-air events in the north and east of the North Island. All the more reason to book early and help ensure that the best possible contingency can be made for the all-too real possibility of an evening downpour. The vagaries of Aotearoa’s weather cannot be allowed to cause us cower from all things al fresco.
Besides, La Niña reduces the chances of the riverside dinner, or the Mahurangi Regatta Prize-Giving & Dance a month earlier, being wrecked by the tail of a tropical cyclone.