11 August 20: Performers transform Waikato streets into stages for Best Fest

A colourful wave of performances transformed streets into stages across the Waikato during a region-wide, one-day event to bring life and fun back to public spaces.

On Saturday 8 August, a once-off regional festival dubbed ‘Best Fest’ had approximately 200 performing artists across 16 towns take their talent to the streets.

Best Fest Coordinator, Paul Bradley believes bringing performing arts into the public domain is one way to enhance the wellbeing of Waikato towns, especially now after lockdown.  

“We’ve been through one heck of a year already, so creative initiatives like Best Fest are a way of lifting morale and recreating a sense of togetherness,” says Bradley.

“During lockdown, we saw how the arts became an ‘essential-service’ to those at home by giving people comfort, a good laugh, inspiration and motivation.

“Now, arts and creativity play another essential role in building our communities back up,” he says.

The Best Fest COVID-19 response had local musicians, theatre performers, dance crews, circus acts and poetry readings as part of the array of creative activity for passers by to enjoy.

Performances took place in high-foot traffic areas of Coromandel Town, Frankton, Hamilton CBD, Hamilton East, Huntly, Kawhia, Matamata, Ngāruawāhia, Ōtorohanga, Te Aroha, Te Awamutu, Te Kauwhata, Thames, Tokoroa, Raglan, Waihi and Whitianga.

“We’re incredibly grateful to the arts advocates, organisations and performers who made the day possible,” says Bradley.

Best Fest was funded by Trust Waikato and WEL Energy Trust, coordinated by Creative Waikato and was put into action by individual arts organisations and enablers across the Waikato.