Sitting in the middle of Taihape, a small town of 1,640 in New Zealand, rests a gigantic iron boot. This multicolored, climbable gumboot may seem randomly placed at first, but it is actually there as a result of a fictional character that is Taihape’s singular claim to fame.
John Clarke, a satirist from New Zealand, often played a fictional character named “Fred Dagg” in his TV sketches. Dagg represented a stereotypical farmer from New Zealand, or, in Clarke’s words, a “Kiwi bloke.” As was the case with many of the farmers in the region, Dagg wore gumboots on his feet.
Clarke had to choose a hometown for Dagg, and he decided on Taihape. The small town took its 15 minutes of fame to its full advantage. Taihape was soon dubbed the “Gumboot Capital of the World,” and, beginning ten years after Dagg’s first appearance, the town began to celebrate “Gumboot Day” on the Tuesday following Easter every year.
Beginning in 1985 and growing in popularity ever since, Gumboot Day revolves around the Gumboot Toss, where hundreds of contestants chuck men’s size eight gumboots as far as they can in hopes of setting the Gumboot Toss world record. Other competitions on Gumboot Day include the best-dressed gumboot and the “shoot the loop” competition.
Taihape’s bizarre gumboot attraction has completely shaped the city. The local quilt shop is now named “The Quilted Gumboot,” the tearooms are located in “Gumboot Manor,” and a giant iron gumboot rests in the center of town.