I got up early on Sunday morning, hoping that I’d left myself enough time to get ready for breakfast out at Portside restaurant. Part of me did wish that I could have slept in a little longer but, being the last day of the Heritage Celebrations, I wanted to make the absolute most of it.
With my hair up, Penguin Suit and French Bonnet on, and basket to carry future fete purchases in hand, I made my way down to the Harbourside Station with a few minutes to spare. As I was waiting to board I watched the stallholders and volunteers across the road, busy setting themselves up for the day. Goodness, I have great respect for their dedication, they were probably up even before I was.
Soon it was time to board and while I was sitting in the carriage I spotted Jill arriving at the station. She soon joined me and we began chatting, and continued to talk during the train ride, and over breakfast too. We talked about Truly Victorian patterns and then spent a great deal of time discussing Murdoch Mysteries, which was lovely because it’s not a big or very well known show here in New Zealand.
There weren’t a large number of us at the breakfast, which was a bit of a shame but it is understandable that a lot of people would have been recovering from the dance the night before, and considering the time that I got up to attend, not everyone would have been keen to do that. It was still a lovely breakfast though and I certainly felt well fortified to take on a day at the fete.
The train returned to the Harbourside Station a couple of minutes after ten o’clock and when we disembarked Jill and I ran into Cheryl and Colleen so we all went into the fete together. As always, we started with a reconnaissance walk around the precinct, taking note of particular stalls worth stopping at. I quickly scoped out Khadil Dolls and Honey and Spice (my favourite stall every year), making a mental note to return to both.
We also discovered a woman making socks on an old machine and stopped to talk to her. It was absolutely fascinating to watch her work and she was really lovely as well. I don’t think that I’ve ever stopped to think about how socks are or were made before.
As we were completing our first loop I spotted Johanna and Martin talking to the Queen and Clarkie the Sparkie and excused myself to head over and say hello. It was suggested that we all get a photo together and Martin offered to play cameraman. We stashed the extra cameras in my basket and swapped them over so we all had photos on each camera.
Of course, as soon as one stands still for one camera, many others are suddenly turned on you. Several tourists took our photos and then as we turned to move away we found that more tourists wished to take our photo. When there was a lull the six of us seized the opportunity and scattered, heading in different directions.
The direction I chose led me directly back to the Honey and Spice stall where I began my annual tradition of sniffing all of the delightful soaps, trying to decide which ones I will buy that year. I do believe that someone was taking photos of me while I was smelling some of them but I really have no idea if they would have turned out very well or not. It is something that you are aware of happening when out and about in historical costume so it didn’t bother me so much. I just found it amusing that someone thought that it was worth capturing.
It took me a few minutes to decide on my soaps and while I was doing so I kept glancing at the beautiful posies that were also for sale. They were just too pretty to ignore so as well as my soaps, I bought one and put it in my basket. I’ve never used a basket at the fete before so I was very glad that I had one this time around. For some very odd reason I ever actually got a photo of me with my posy and I do regret it because the flowers were beautiful.
After visiting the Honey and Spice stall I made my way slowly around the precinct towards the Main Stage for the Official Opening of the fete. I reunited with Liane, Cheryl, and Colleen and we all sat together for the speeches from Mayor Gary Kircher, and from the Queen of Oamaru.
Once the ‘formalities’ were over it was time for the Oamaru Stone Sawing Competition to begin and the first category of the day was the Ladies’ Singles. I became the basket keeper as Liane and Cheryl had both entered, and went to get themselves sorted. I’ve never tried to saw Oamaru stone before and I don’t think that it’s a competition that I’ll try. I don’t think that I’d be tough enough (plus, that stone dust goes everywhere…) I’m more than happy to cheer on my friends, however.
Liane and Cheryl have previously entered the doubles but never the singles before and I think that they both did a wonderful job. They were also competing with Krista, who had raced on a penny farthing the day before.
There was some time between the ladies’ singles and doubles so while Liane and Cheryl were catching their breath I decided to go and find myself some coffee. I also had a bit more of a wander back down Harbour Street and ran into my aunt, who often comes down to visit an old friend of hers. She hadn’t seen my dresses in person before, just via Facebook and photos that my mother had shown her. It was lovely to catch up with her briefly before I remembered that I was supposed to go back and be Liane and Cheryl’s cheer squad.
I made it back to the sawing competition in time to cheer them on and watch the Ladies’ doubles. Despite being tired from the earlier competition they (and all of the competitors) did really well. On finishing, and after displaying excellent sportswomanship, Liane and Cheryl made their way over to me and we all disappeared into the Criterion so they had a chance to sit down, put their feet up, and to escape from the sun for a while.
Once we reemerged from the Criterion, feeling refreshed and refortified, I spotted Maree and Scott by the Brass and Glass mobile darkroom. They had just had their second tintype and were waiting for it to develop. As it was developing Brian could see that the exposure was a bit off and offered to retake it for them (wonderful customer service!) so they arranged to come back shortly, and I was also fitted in for a sitting about the same time.
Maree and Scott introduced me to Tyler, their flatmate who they had somehow convinced to come along, and the four of us walked around, browsing stalls. One of the stalls we stopped at was Khadil Dolls and Maree and I both admired the beautiful dolls and art prints that Hilary had made. With my nieces in mind, I tried to decide what might make the best Christmas gift for each of them but as Maree, Scott and Tyler were moving on, I followed. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to return that day but bought a couple of dolls online for the girls a few days later.
We returned to our spot near where Brass and Glass were set up. Brian and Jane were busy with other customers so we still had some time to wait and Scott decided to enter the Beard and Moustache competition.
Once that was over, it was tintype time again. I was picked to go first and as I was standing, waiting for the camera adjustments to be made and such, I realised just how much easier it is to stand in front of studio lights as opposed to outdoor natural light. The sun had decided to start breaking through the clouds and I think I’m quite fortunate that my second tintype doesn’t have me squinting. It was also a bit harder to focus on standing still and keeping my eyes fixed on a spot with all of the hustle and bustle of the fete.
Fortunately, it was only a three-second exposure instead of five for my ball tintype, so it was a little easier. I was so certain that I had accidentally blinked so I was quite nervous watching the tintype develop and so relieved to see that I hadn’t. Again, like my first tintype, this was definitely a treasured souvenir to take home with me.
I stood with Tyler as Maree and Scott had their tintype retaken and they had even more sunlight to deal with than I did so they did amazingly. I also think that was around the time that I had extra bits and pieces put into my basket for safekeeping, with the reminder to remind them to take their things out at the end of the day.
While the tintypes were drying we all realised that we were feeling hungry and started deliberating which food truck or stall to visit. Out of curiosity, I pulled my phone out to look at the time. Somehow, and it seemed impossible, it was ten minutes to four. The fete was nearly over. We settled on trying the funnel cakes, which we had seen advertised on the Heritage Celebrations Facebook page and had wanted to try.
Finding a place to sit, we watched as stallholders started to pack themselves up. I’ve generally left right before this and it was quite sad to see the precinct slowly starting to return to normal. The four of us walked back to see Brian and Jane to collect and pay for our tintypes before saying goodbye, and agreeing on a time to meet for our traditional Sunday night dinner.
I was just about to walk out of the gates when I looked down at my basket and realised that I still had Maree and Scott’s things. I turned to see that they had already walked halfway down the street. Well, I thought, there’s nothing for it, and started walking as quickly as I could to try and catch them. Walking wasn’t working, and I figured since most of the fete crowd had dissipated, it wouldn’t be too unseemly to run after them instead.
As it was, I just caught up with Maree, Scott, and Tyler, before they exited into the carpark. I think that I surprised them by suddenly popping up and asking if they wanted their belongings. Funnily enough, despite being a little out of breath, I hadn’t at any stage felt hindered by my corset when I ran (who says that they’re restrictive and uncomfortable?).
Since I hadn’t planned on changing for dinner I ended up heading to Maree and Scott’s with them and hanging out for a bit, meeting their cats. It was nice to sit down since I hadn’t really done that all day since breakfast.
When it came time to move again we drove down to The Last Post to meet Liane for dinner. It’s always such a lovely, even if bittersweet, way to mark the end of the Heritage Celebrations. We chatted for ages, long after everyone had finished eating, enjoying each others’ company, and also reluctant to let the day and the celebrations draw to an end.
While our numbers were less than last year we still had a fantastic dinner and some rather amusing conversations. Eventually, the time came to say goodbye and, promising to keep in touch, Liane and I farewelled Maree, Scott, and Tyler. Returning across the road to the Empire, we both began the task of packing everything up and reminiscing about the previous days and wonderful memories made.
If you missed it, Part 1 is here
Part 2 is here
And Part 3 is here