POLYFEST was bigger and better than ever with thousands of young performers and an audience of more than 20,000 people pouring into ILT Stadium Southland last week for its five-day run. ‘‘We were very excited to see it so well supported,’’ co-ordinator Pauline Smith said. ‘‘It ran smoothly and people were really positive about seeing their children perform on stage.’’ Facilitated by the Maori and Pasifika Cultural Trust, the annual cultural festival provided children from early childhood centres through to senior secondary school kapa haka groups the opportunity to perform and celebrate the Maori and Pasifika cultures. About 122 groups from throughout Southland and Central Otago performed this year, up from 106 last year. The festival finished on Friday and organisers are already planning next year’s event. ‘‘We can see potential to grow the festival further,’’ Ms Smith said. ‘‘[The success of Polyfest] has invigorated us… to see what we can add for the community.’’ Some of the ideas being considered included an official opening ceremony with a performance by a large kapa haka group to inspire the young people, and incorporating a cultural food and craft market again, she said. A new feature of this year’s event was Polyfest’s own YouTube channel featuring the performances. The channel had been successful, attracting 35,000 hits to date, so the team intended to refine and improve it further and make it a feature of next year’s event, she said.