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  • Writer's picturePatrick Dawkins

Big Buzz on the Back-Burner … for Now

It was a run-away success in its inaugural staging in 2021, but organisers do not plan to hold The Big Buzz Festival in 2022 as the Covid operating environment continues to throw up impediments.

Around 2400 people streamed through the gates of Matakana School, north of Auckland on February 14, to join in a celebration of all things pollinators and to help foster a greater connection between beekeepers and the wider community. The support left organisers Isabella Sullivan and Grass Esposti optimistic for the festival’s future as an annual event, but now that outlook moves to bi-annual in the first instance.

The inaugural Big Buzz festival in February was a roaring success, but when will it be back?

Sullivan says they are still confident as to the viability of The Big Buzz longer term and are going to reassess its potential in early 2022, with an eye to an event in 2023.

“Big Buzz was a fantastic success and we had a lot more attendees than we expected. The feedback we gained at the time was that most people were happy with what we were doing, how we were doing it and all the stallholders were keen to come back for future events,” Sullivan says.

That success led the organisers of the non-profit event to seek to scale it up, with a greater level of funding required to make that a possibility. Even if the event was to continue as is, Sullivan says it would still require extra funding to help alleviate some of the work load from her and Esposti.

“The work Grass and I had to put in to pull the event off in Covid circumstances was huge and really came at the cost of a lot of our personal life.

“While there is room to scale up, with stallholders interested, the ability to access funds was reduced because of Covid. Reality is, very few corporate backers would be willing to invest in an event in Auckland, full stop.”

That led the pair to make an early call not to pursue hosting an event in 2022.

“We have decided to put it on the back burner, which in hindsight was the right thing to do. Looking at it now, if we had committed to hosting an event in February or March next year, it would have been a nightmare,” Sullivan says.

Big Buzz festival organisers Grass Esposti, left, and Isabella Sullivan.

February’s festival was family friendly event, featuring a range of bee-themed stallholders, cooking demonstrations, presentations and activities.

The organisers discussed the future of the festival with Apiculture New Zealand, who were supportive but unable to offer funding themselves. Chief executive Karin Kos attended the inaugural Big Buzz in February and praised the event.

With an eye to potential future events though, Sullivan says they would love to get more feedback from anyone who attended, or even those who didn’t, but who wish to contribute to the concept.

Did you attend the Big Buzz Festival in February and have any feedback? Or would you like it to be held in your region? What direction would you like the festival to go in? email


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