PUPPY LOVE: Chelsea Marriner and Sprint, part of the Ultimate Canines trick dog team. Photos Troy Baker D9016-0324

THIS year’s Kawerau WoodFest has been a huge success and there was a phenomenal turnout.

WoodFest director Amy Hayes estimates 7000 people attended the event, which showcases the history of the Kawerau district, formed to harness the abundance of resources from the Kaingaroa Forest.

“It really was a phenomenal turnout by competitors, locals, businesses, volunteers, performers and visitors and the weather pitched in for what has become one of our iconic events,” Amy says.

Bands and performers throughout the weekend included up-and-coming Kawerau singer Nikau Grace Chater with her band Nikau and the Natives.

WoodFest attracts some of the world’s best and New Zealand representatives in the world of wood chopping, FMX motocross, BMX and pole climbing and loggers too.

Crowd favourites are always the Pacific Toyota Big Dig World Champs and Diddy Dig for younger diggers. “It is rare that the Diddy Dig event has been won by a school outside of Kawerau, with Thornton School taking the honours this year,” Amy says, “but no-one seems able to beat the Hubbards Razorbacks in the Big Dig World Champs – who have back-to-back-to back titles plus.

“But the FMX Pros motocross and BMX lifestyle and trial crews did enter a team into the Big Dig team World Champs for the first time. Their fitness and durability showed through but even these world-class athletes had to be content with second place.”

The industrial site tours of Mercury Energy, Norske Skog, Oji Fibre Solutions, Sequal Lumber and the newly opened Waiu Dairy were fully booked before the weekend started.

“We just couldn’t keep up with the demand of these tours,” Amy says.