Market Day brings out the crowds. And the fake snot. Coincidence?

November 3, 2009

The annual Arts in the Park Haumoana Market Day is a circled event on the Hawke’s Bay calendar of local activities. A major fundraiser for Haumoana School, it’s held the first Sunday in November at Memorial Park and tends to attract crowds in the thousands.

We missed it our first year here because I was, ahem, lying on a beach in Bora Bora. (And, yes, travel writers are to be envied. And worshipped.)

Normally, I’m not a big fan of crowded venues, having begged off our family’s annual pilgrimage to Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition as soon as I was old enough to say no to my parents. But Sunday presented us with a generous serving of warm spring weather and so Viking Woman and I opted to continue our quest to experience the wonders of our new community.

In doing so, we decided to forgo our usual Sunday morning foray to the flea-cum-farmers’ market on Napier’s Marine Parade, and so I was hoping to pick up some fresh local produce in Haumoana. It was not to be. This Market Day may have featured more than 200 stalls, but it was all about goods and services and less about healthy food. Unless by food you mean corn dogs. And by corn dogs I mean deep-fried mutton sausages. Thanks, but no thanks.

There were hundreds of wares on offer, most of them of the variety Viking Woman refers to as “dust collectors.” Things like decorated boomerangs or inflatable caveman clubs or some kind of wonder mop; even a child-size grandstand so your brood can sit and cheer Dad on while you mow the lawn. I was momentarily tempted by the packaged samples of “slime” and “snot” but, in the end, realized I could probably produce the real thing at home for free.

You could bid on alcohol or artwork — and not much else — at an auction, or ride the ponies if you were, like, six. Have your face painted or receive a massage. I could have had my hair braided if I’d had enough, um, time.

Entertainment was promised, but all we saw during our two-hour stay was a group of indigenous people from South America playing their traditional bamboo flutes while dressed as North American Indians. Because nothing draws a crowd like a chief’s feathered war bonnet and the possibility, no matter how remote, of a good, old-fashioned scalpin’.

In the end, all I spent was $4 on two soft ice cream cones. Because, at least as far as I’m concerned, sunny days are all about ice cream, as opposed to ceramic skulls or fake shrunken heads. But maybe that’s just me.

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