Garden and art festival blooming and booming

Festival MC Banana Jolie enjoying pushing the enjoyment scope of Bloom in the Bay at Tauranga Racecourse. Photos: Rosalie Liddle Crawford

Enthusiast festival goers are revelling in the fine weather turned on for the third day running of this year's Bay of Plenty Garden & Arts Festival.

From day one on Thursday, hundreds of festival pass holders have been visiting the more than 70 gardens and artists on the festival trail that stretches from Katikati to Te Puke, as well as spending time at the festival hub, Bloom in the Bay, this year located at Tauranga Racecourse.

"It's the first time we've ever had people waiting to get in at Bloom in the Bay," says festival director Marc Anderson.

Festival goers were lining up at 9am on Thursday at the racecourse, waiting for the gates to open at 9.30am.

Susan Gernhoefer and Robyn Hemphill at Bloom in the Bay

At Bloom in the Bay, which is free entry for pass holders and only $5 at the gate for everyone else, there is live music, a kids zone, food trucks, a bar, stage acts, presentations and workshops, creative demonstrations, art exhibitions, floral art displays, and live painting and mural painting.

After arriving, visitors are met with quirky decorated gumboots from local school pupils and can vote for their favourite display.

Kevin the Kiwi, the gumboot entry by Room 23 at Selwyn Ridge Primary School

There are indoor galleries with the Festival Gallery showing work from each of the approximately 100 festival artists; a Tauranga Society of Artists gallery featuring artists painting live during the festival; and an alcove featuring the 14 paintings from the finalists selected for the Weekend Sun Emerging Artists Award. The winner will be announced on Sunday afternoon.

Bruce Hutchinson painting live in the Tauranga Society of Artists gallery at Bloom in the Bay at Tauranga racecourse

Faye Suzannah, who painted the new mural at the northern end of the main grandstand, is painting a garden mural during the festival, which is available to buy.

The Bay of Plenty Floral Art Society is holding its Designer of the Year competition, with this year's overall floral art theme being 'The Bay in Bloom' and featuring Dutch Flemish designs, traditional designs and contemporary designs, as well as stunning fascinators and necklaces made from plant material.

Workshops on Saturday feature photographer Kim Westerskov, Jizzy Green talking about trash to treasure and planting an edible garden, Emma Cole, Sally Lyttle from The Garden Project, Marion Nicholas, Envirohub with their Bee Hotel and Seed Bombs, Catherine Bell, and Ruud Keinpaste.

Banana Jolie interviewing artists from the main stage

The kids zone 'Little Sweethearts' has workshops and demonstrations today on making lavender bags, planting seeds and worm farming, as well as providing a fun environment for children to explore and learn.

Bands playing during the day include Diversity, Otumoetai Big Band, Te Puke Youth Choir, Catriona Fallon, Kokomo Unplugged, St Klaeds Computer, Birdhouse, and The Afronlites rounding off the day with a set from 6pm to 6.45pm.

Tony and Bernice Wright are opening their garden for the first time to festival goers

The Garden and Art Trail is accessible to festival pass holders. Two ticket types will be available for the 2020 festival. A one-day ticket will get pass holders to all gardens on the trail for one day only. A multi-day festival pass will allow you to see all gardens on all days of the festival.

E-bikes hire and a bike shuttle as well as a shared or private bus shuttle is also available.

The festival trail is open from 9.30am - 5pm today and from 9.30am - 3pm on Sunday. Bloom in the Bay is open on Saturday from 9.30am - 7pm and from 9.30am to 3pm on Sunday

Festival Passes are available from Bloom in the Bay at Tauranga Racecourse and also from Palmers Bethlehem, The Arts Junction – Katikati, Decor Gardenworld, Pacifica Home and Garden Store and Te Puke Florists.

There is ample seating to enjoy the food trucks and live music at Bloom in the Bay. Close by are workshops, live painting and many galleries of art and floral art.

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