Cheung Chau lays on extra buns for next week's festive scramble

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 April, 2009, 12:00am

Cheung Chau is expecting a surge in visitors for next week's Bun Festival, where scramblers are expected to scoop up 20 per cent more buns.

The attendance increase is expected because the festival, on May 2, falls in the middle of the three-day Labour Day weekend.

And a bigger bun tally is expected because the fake buns being used this year are softer than before, making them easier to stuff into bags.

Senior Inspector Benji Law Tung-wah, Cheung Chau police assistant divisional commander, said he expected the holiday to draw as many as 60,000 visitors to the island. Last year, organisers put the number at 50,000.

Mr Law said the peak of arrivals would be Saturday morning and afternoon, when 20,000 people were likely to land.

Some 360 police tactical unit members will be sent to the island, 80 of them to take care of the venue for the bun scrambling competition.

Leisure and Cultural Services Department chief leisure manager Sylvia Tang Man-wah said that scramblers grabbed 70 to 80 buns on average last year, but this year an average of 80 to 90 buns was expected.

A total of 1,500 spectators would be allowed to enter the venue and watch the race, while 800 could stand around the venue. Tickets would be distributed free on a first-come, first-served basis from 10pm that night.

Mr Tsang said those who failed to get a ticket could watch the race on television.

Cheung Chau locals are hoping visitors will observe tradition and stick to a vegetarian diet during the festival. Bun Festival Committee chairman Yung Chi-ming said all shops on the island would turn vegetarian, including McDonald's. 'Last year, a restaurant broke the rule. We do not wish to see it again this year,' he said.

Hotels and guesthouses on the island were almost fully booked, Mr Law said. Extra ferries are scheduled to take visitors back to Central after the competition, while overnight buses would operate between the pier and various locations.

A total of 166 people - 132 men and 34 women - have entered the bun scrambling race this year, slightly more than in previous years, Ms Tang said. The race will start at midnight, to be followed by an invitation relay of teams from Guangzhou, Macau and Shenzhen. The competition was expected to finish at 12.40am.

A long way to the top

A model of this year?s bun tower, and examples of the imitation buns that will be used

This year?s schedule

Apr 18, 19, 25 Training for climbers

Apr 25 Selection of finalists

Apr 26 Climbing demonstration, variety show, handicraft making

May 2 Parade, culminating in bun scrambling competition at midnight