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It's party time in 'gayville'

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    It's party time in 'gayville' - 1-Jan-2009
    By day men skip to the river with their hot-pink lilos and by night high heels and lipstick come out for their drag alter-egos.

    Nearby, at the riverside campsite, the women drink Tui, gather firewood and openly liken their fashion style to Fred Dagg's.

    Camp Camp is not your average holiday spot.

    At the Vinegar Hill camping ground, five kilometres north of Hunterville, gays and lesbians have converged for one of the biggest events on the New Zealand gay calendar.

    More than 1000 attended the New Year's Eve festival and games, including fashion in the field, purse throwing and the crowning of a new queen.

    There was also the annual friendly softball game, lesbians versus "gay boys", with bubbles on the sideline.

    Everyone was picking another win for the lesbians, bolstered by regional representatives. "We all come together and thrash the boys," Heather Black said.

    "You know what gay boys are like."

    Camp mother, and reigning queen, Jenni James said the tradition began 33 years ago with two men and had snowballed.

    "Many try to come here then go to the Mardi Gras. Gay people with families are bringing the kids down now and locals come down at night."

    The Hunterville haven attracts holidaymakers from around the world with its idyllic grounds and party-tag.

    There are bonfires, music, dancing and drag queen and king acts. "It's classic gayville for Christmas and New Year," Ms Black said.

    For campers it's a relaxing spot to get away and be themselves.

    "It's great to get to know everyone," Andy Cox said. "All us gay boys wouldn't normally hang out with lesbians if it wasn't for Vinegar Hill."

    Mal Wall and Murray Smith, in their tiny togs, headed to the river with their hot-pink lilos.

    "We can just be ourselves. It doesn't matter what religion or creed, whatever, it's just people having a good time."

    And with prizes at stake, the campsite was far from drab, with rainbow flags, Christmas lights, manicured lawns and garden paths lined with plastic yellow roses, fountains and sculptures.
    Ref: - The Dominion Post

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