27 August 2012 by Chris Marais

Kickin’ up some dust

Welcome to the Williston Winter Festival, a time to kick up some dust and greet the beginning of spring.

The little Upper Karoo town of Williston is holding a festival this weekend to say a fond goodbye to winter and big hello to spring.

Local musicians backing the Nama Riel dancers

I’ve been a Williston Winter Festino ever since the thing began 3 years ago, because in my books it’s probably the truest cultural affair in rural South Africa.

There are a couple of big names booked for the festival but, in reality, the stars of the show are the people from this area who dance the Nama Riel (reel dance).

It’s probably the truest cultural affair in rural South Africa.

Even though I’m a proud owner of a German shepherd, I’ll probably give the Calvinia police dog performance a wide miss. Police dogs and I have not been seeing eye-to-eye of late, ever since a cop rottie mistook me for lunch at a Graaff-Reinet agricultural show and I had to briefly become Usain Bolt and run for my life.

Casting excited shadows in the midday sun...

But that’s a dog-blog for another day. I will be popping along to the Trekklavier Dorings' (Accordion Thorns) show, ‘cause I hear they’re really hot. And I’ll listen to a few numbers by the Silver Creek Mountain Band, led by barefoot bassist Rod Dry.

The Madeliefies and the Williston Youth Brigade are always worthwhile, and they say the Verdoes family are preparing no fewer than 4 different potjies (pot stews) this year, so that will take care of the inner man.

But I’m really looking forward to seeing the likes of Boeta Gammie (the local hero) and the Klipwerf Orkes (the local boeremusiek band) and, of course, the dozens of Nama Rielers who will be kicking up the Williston dust and strutting their stuff for the crowd and the judges.

The festival closes on Sunday at the Williston Mall with a church gathering and performances by the choirs of Calvinia and Williston.

And then I’ll probably pack my gear and head west to the flowering daisy fields of Namaqualand, where I will practise my photography and whatever Nama Riel step I will have picked up this weekend...

Festival enquiries: Pieter Naude: + 27 (0)72 018 7288

Boeta Gammie, aka Akkedissie, the star of the Upper Karoo

Category: Events

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