They All End The Same Way

Posted by on Feb 20, 2011 | 3 Comments

Even the best Chardonnay, when consumed excessively, can have a sub-optimal outcome.

Even the best Chardonnay, when consumed excessively, can have a sub-optimal outcome.

The Speculator  was out late last night in Devonport and observed the behaviour of the last stragglers leaving the Food and Wine Festival and the Masonic’s associated party.

The Speculator  drove through the centre of Devonport at 1:30am, and observed an impressive number of extremely inebriated people making their way hunched and  zombie-like up Victoria Rd while pleading for drivers to stop and give them a lift. The Speculator must reveal a certain amount of abuse was delivered to those drivers who did not stop, but most of this was the enthusiastic expression of disappointment rather than naked aggression. Most of those observed were drunk but in good spirits.

Nevertheless, The Speculator’s mind was taken back to a time when he was fortunate to reside in Barcelona for a year, and remembers clearly a food and wine festival held in the main street, Passeig de Gracia.

The behaviour of the native Catalans was exemplary; there was no sign of any drunkeness (indeed, The Speculator never witnessed a single Catalan drunk in public in his 9 month stay) and the entire event was not even policed.

It seems a shame that events such as these – which are intended to be a celebration and appreciation of  good wine and food – are invariably always followed by demonstrations of this kind of extreme inebriation in New Zealand (and of course, other Anglo-Saxon countries).

A similar experience was had at the Martinborough Wine Festival in 2005; it was an embarrassing shambles, with a significant number of ludicrously drunk people – and noticeably a high proportion of women – making idiots of themselves on the free buses, in the vineyards and in the town centre.

While The Speculator will continue to support the Festival, it has a certain amount of sympathy with those residents who see it as an intrusion on the local community (it seemed quite symbolic that it was gated off from the surrounding area, when the Festival in Barcelona was completely open to the entire city to participate).

While it would be nice and easy to, we cannot hold the organisers responsible for the behaviour of the attendees.

Unfortunately, that’s a problem that needs to be shouldered by the parents who grew up in the same culture but now have all the information regarding binge drinking at their disposal to begin to educate their children as to its dangers.  Some do. Some don’t.

And when one drives up Victoria Rd at 1:30am and sees a bunch of our local kids on their skateboards, weaving in and out of the drunken hoards, you can see history apparently set to repeat itself.


  1. Bond says:

    As a suave martini drinker and discriminating appreciator of the opposite sex, I do think it’s a pity that any event involving alcohol in NZ appears to carry an expectation that the participants will drink themselves into a state of mindless aggression, puerile exhibitionism, inept fumbling (with themselves or others), or an unlovely vomit-laden stupor. So boring. Surely Devo deserves an event with a bit more style.

    And more eloquence from our esteemed local killer for hire. Welcome back 003 – Ed

  2. RL says:

    Sadly it’s the nature of NZ events such as the Devonport Food & Wine Festival that some people will consume excessive alcohol. As the article identifies there are other events and establishments that continue to serve drinks after the festival closes and they also contribute to excessive consumption and Saturday night issues. As for the festival being an intrusion, it’s a once a year festival that has raised $2M for local and NZ charities over time. Local detractors should note that Sunday has evolved into a great family day, with a smaller crowd, and so a great opportunity to enjoy many musical acts for a rediculously low price. The fences were required by authorities and have served to manage the numbers and the issues of drunkeness.
    The detractors need to remember there are other events that cause congestion and inconvenience, such as yachting events, New Years Eve and sporting events. Their energy would be better served complaining to council about the failed implementation of cycle lanes on Lake Road that I suggest is driving residents and visitors away from Devonport – dont get me started!

  3. JL says:

    It’s sad that the drunken excesses of some spoil it for the rest.
    Once upon a time the festival was a really pleasant experience, but for years now, a high proportion of local people avoid the event like the plague. We stock the larder, don’t even think about braving Lake Rd & essentially remain trapped at home until it’s over. This doesn’t mean we’re prudish wowsers who don’t like a few wines as much as the next person, it just means that the whole thing has degenerated into a bit of a shambles, with impact way beyond the ticketed area.
    It’s also interesting that the weekend coincides with Art Deco weekend in Napier, at which people seem able to cavort, without the same issues……Maybe we could emulate the way they celebrate their uniqueness by re-designing the Devonport event to better reflect the character of our own wonderful town?….I’d love to hear suggestions.

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