An autumn celebration

Back in 2008 (seems eons ago) The Cambridge Autumn Festival Trust was formed – resulting in the successful launch, the following year, of their initial street-front social, entertainment and arts presentation.

Peter Carr

And – Covid interruptions apart – it has gone from strength to strength. Two names stand out as being involved just about throughout the whole venture – Alana Mackay and Alan Milton. I dug deep into the photographic history, actually 2009, and uncovered a photo of two industrious festival worthies adorned in fluoro jackets in the middle of the road – Alan and Alana’s father David.

Along with others these hard-working people have enabled Cambridge to come to life – mainly kerb-side – every year just prior to the millions of tree leaves commencing their turn to autumnal gold and brown.

Alana Mackay at the Autumn Festival Launch. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.

And the weekend just past was no exception as a cloudy threatening day turned by 10am into a glorious warm sunshine bringing out the local crowds to goggle, listen, consume and giggle their way through a multitude of wide-ranging residents hell-bent on enjoyment.

Picture the austere BNZ bank (sorry BNZ you are not alone) with hot-to-trot rock ‘n rollers swinging wildly outside the bank windows. Across the road and round the corner in the Rouge courtyard about half of the excellent 75 strong Cambridge Mosaic Choir were in full flood.

These three members of the Cambridge Cruisers Rock ‘n Roll Dancers – Colleen Ryan, Jim Berry and Pam Berry – drew a crowd with their high-flying moves.

Further north, after passing numerous interesting stalls many displaying handcrafts, we came upon the Victoria Park farmers market area. It was converted from the vegetable, bread and fruit displays of the day before to a number of roofed stands with a well-placed stage hosting a three-man Blues group. More feet tapping and bodies swaying. And there was Alana, in the obligatory fluoro jacket, keeping an eye on proceedings.   Meanwhile at the edge of the area the Cambridge Lions were busy dolling out their usual fare from their well-run mobile kitchen – with all profits going back eventually into the community.

Across to the Town Hall – with the main auditorium filled with a large collection of frames holding oils and watercolours from local artists. There is plenty of talent in this town. In the adjacent Victoria Room were a magnificent series of photographs which had me itching to get my camera out of the cupboard.

Right outside the front door – much to the relief of many parents and grandparents – a delightful clown was hosting a performance for a large group of little people – who were squealing with delight.

Cambridge Town Hall during the Autumn Festival 2024

Further down Victoria Street a lone contralto voice with guitar accompaniment presented soulful music that, too, attracted a good crowd of attendees.

This is not a one-day affair –   it runs for 10 days with many opportunities to enjoy music, theatres, visual arts and dining. We are heading on today (Thursday) to Te Awa Retirement Village – who ever thought that such an establishment would host a Blues evening in their fine Woolshed facility? But they do and it works well there.

Putting aside the horrors of orange cones, blocked-off streets and emerging cycle paths, Cambridge was in full swing of enjoyment, happy memories and grateful appreciation of the hard working trust.


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