Even after a brilliant sunset, the stars come out to shine is a saying that epitomises this year’s Slow Festival activities.
From the opening ceremony on Wednesday evening with Executive Mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies and Knysna & Partners Chairlady, Elmay Bouwer, praising the initiative and dedication of the organising committee, this year’s Slow Festival has run with a blend of exceptional crowd participation and engaging activities. Not only did the themed orange colour of the festival prevail throughout, but the diversity of activities offered a perfect balance for families to enjoy relaxed catch-up moments after some energetic sporting events and fringe activities to entertain both children and adults.
Not to forget the true message of Easter, devotees could fortify their belief by participating in the Way of the Cross, a pilgrimage through the village with stops at various churches, each with a message of the Passion of the Christ.
Since its inception, the Slow Festival has grown annually and has been integral in showcasing the lifestyle of the village. From a family at the Sand Sculpture Challenge expressing excitement of their imminent move to Sedgefield, or sportsman planning to return for next year’s Pick n Pay Goukamma Traverse Trail Run and the Garden Route Fat Bike Challenge, or parents planning to go to the ‘Movies with the Stars’ so that they can share a nostalgic outing that was part of their own youth with their children, the festival has consistently provided entertainment that embraces a warm lifestyle of a community.
If you went down to the woods, well actually to the Fish Eagle Green on Saturday to watch the start of the SUP Race and Anything That Floats, you would have been hard-pressed to find parking space if you were late, testimony to the support for this and other events during the festival.
For the night owls, there was plenty entertainment to keep you up till the early hours of the morning starting with a music event at the village green and then migrating to Pili Pili for the Beer Pong competition.
Sometimes even the stars shine during the day at the Slow Festival, and festinos were graced with the presence of local hero Miss South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters who, to the delight of everyone, lead the Sunday street parade. Selflessly she posed and autographed photos before addressing the crowds with the motivation of everyone to endeavour to strive to achieve their dreams. Testimony to her message is that along her path she was crowned Miss Slow Festival in 2011.
So, on Sunday evening, with the hymns of the choir still echoing through my mind and the last tent on the village green dismantled and packed away, I drove home. The sun had set and the Outeniqua Mountains were crystal clear along the horizon and contentment descended on me as I reflected that, this, like every other Slow Festival with all the wonderful activities for the weekend, had been a special holiday that catered for an escape from daily living and that it truly IS a star in the calendar of events in the Garden Route.
SIDE NOTE: This year was the 8th annual Slow Festival and this one, along with the seven previous years, has been co-ordinated and organised by a small team of volunteers working with a break-even budget. A lot of effort and fun but every year is more stressful, wondering whether costs will be covered. The Festival creates a huge platform for many charities to benefit from funds raised by them at the numerous events on offer. This year, as in the past, the Slow Festival team were truly blessed by the help, encouragement and financial donations of various locals, businesses and organisations. Each year the Festival receives more extensive media exposure, greater media coverage and grows bigger and better but with growth comes increasing overheads. The Slow Festival Team have many fantastic ideas to grow the Festival even further in 2018 and into the future, but only if funds allow. Realistically, for the Slow Festival to continue, it is imperative that a corporate financial sponsor is found. If the Slow festival is something that your brand or business aligns with, or know of the right corporate entity that could help grow it, the organisers would love to hear from you. Please contact Amanda Dixon who heads up the Slow Festival Committee on 072 949 3002 or at email@example.com to set up a meeting to discuss this exciting opportunity.