Life on the road with The Extravaganza

Rob and Karen Reilly with their stall.

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The Extravaganza is bringing the vibe of the gypsy fair out of the eighties and into another century, and changing the face of an institution.

The Extravaganza is open at Memorial Park throughout the long weekend and is offering a high standard in children’s entertainment as well as the stalls normally found at the travelling fairs.

Former Whitianga restauranteur Rob Reilly’s sold up three months ago and has been travelling with The Extravaganza ever since.

“Getting to the age of retirement, what to do,” says Rob.

“We quite like travelling in a mobile home and earning a little bit on the way to pay for your fuel. There’s a few like us on the fair.

“The new fair that we have got here has been running for two years now, it’s in its second year. It broke away from the old gypsy fair.”

They don’t like being called the gypsy fair any more, it’s The Extravaganza, says Rob.

“The reason why we chose this one over the other one is there’s a lot more happening, a bit more up market feel about it, you know.

“There’s lots more happening for the kids. They pay two musicians to keep the mobile stage rolling pretty much all day.

“And then they organise tug of war, sack races, there’s a juggling show, fire show, giant bubbles and good food now as well. It’s all coming together.

“We were quite impressed when we looked at it and we are by no means the old hippie types, more like yippies or yuppies.”

They have a ‘pretty good’ 4x4 rig with cedar battens on the side and a big awning. There’s also a kayak on the roof and a couple of bikes.

Rob and his wife Karen generally have two of three days off between fairs and the 35 trucks comprising The Extravaganza are on the road for eight months of the year, covering a route that starts in Nelson and heads south to Bluff before returning north calling at towns on the North Island East Coast and going as far north as Matakana before returning south via Coromandel and Tauranga.

“It’s a very different lifestyle, we are really enjoying it. We will probably stay three or four years with these guys. There’s a lot of interesting people from all walks of life.”

From here The Extravaganza will be heading to Taupo on February 11 and 12, before hitting Hamilton at the end of the month.


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