Thus far on the Clarion Tour, our brave young Clarionites have done everything from scaling scaffolding to tackling prickly plants with the greatest of ease. Last night though, we were to face our greatest challenge yet: the construction of a family sized tent in the field in front of the house belonging to none other than the Hon. Darren Hughes. Tent building, us city kids discovered, is actually hard work but thankfully sustenance came in the form of fish and chips from the local chippy courtesy of Darren. In the end, thanks mostly to the mad tent erecting skills of Eric and Shona, we eventually had somewhere to sleep for Friday evening. Our success was rewarded with some casual drinks (yes, everyone on this leg of the tour was over 18, don’t you worry) with Darren, after which we all squished in the tent and readied ourselves for what was to be a rather windy night in the great farmlands of Levin.
Today, we were fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to help out the organisers of the Horowhenua AP & I show, an event that has been integral to Levin for 105 years. The event boasts a great mix of entertainment, with events such as wood-chopping, dog trials and a enormous range of culinary treats. For many of us on the Tour, it was our first experience of attending an agricultural based show, and we were really excited to see what it had on offer. Our main task for the day was to conduct a survey on behalf of the A P & I show coordinators, which asked visitors about how they found out about the show and what the main draw cards or attractions were for them during the day. At times this was a little tricky as people assumed that, because we had our trusty Clarion uniform on,that we were there to survey them about the current political climate, but the vast majority of people were extremely pleasant and more than happy to help us out.
We had some really interesting responses from some of the people that we met. One woman we met on our survey-related travels was Levin born and raised and was working as a volunteer for a stall. She lamented the fact that it seemed a lot quieter this year; probably a sign that the recession had hit her and other people in rural areas hard. The increase in expenses meant that families like hers had to cut down on luxuries like taking their families out to events such as the AP & I show, she said. We also got a distinct sense from talking to most people of just how important these types of events are for places like Levin; they bring the whole township together and invoke a real sense of community solidarity.
The Otaki LEC very kindly donated us funds so that we could sample some of the food on offer (Soraiya highly recommended the cheese and onion toasties, if you ever decide to go) and, after collating a few more surveys, we were on our way to Wellington to attend a fundraiser that Nicola (our YL Wellington Regional Rep), Geoff and Kurt had organised in order to help us raise enough money to pay for the expenses associated with organising a tour of this scale. But that’s another story…