SONGSTRESS: Shelly Akuhata provided entertainment on the day. D8020-100

THE first-ever Whakatane Seafood Festival, held at Te Hau Tutua Park last Saturday, attracted close to 4000 people from across Aotearoa and raised thousands of dollars for Coastguard Whakatane.

Organisers of the event say a steady crowd of happy seafood lovers streamed through the gates across the day, feasting on kaimoana from a wide range of vendors.

Many took part in competitions, with Blake Palmer winning the Whakatohea Open Ocean Mussel Shelling Competition; the Kina Slayers team won the Sunz (Sea Urchin New Zealand) kina eating competition and Anthony Palmer took home the top prize in the Moana New Zealand National Knife Filleting Competition.

There was also lots of activities for children including bouncy castles, mini cars and face painting. Throughout the day, a top-notch line-up of Kiwi musicians took to the stage and entertained crowds of people sitting on the grass and browsing the stalls.

Auckland band Tasman Az got the crowd to their feet and pop sensation Theia closed the festival with an impressive 40 minute set, later meeting and taking selfies with a queue of excited fans.

Many thanks must go to the volunteers from Coastguard Whakatane and the Trident High Senior A Volleyball Team, who helped to make the Whakatane Seafood Festival the success that it was.