06 September 2011 by Chris Marais

Rockin' @ the Williston Winter Festival

I’ll let you in on a little secret.

If you want to find a country festival that’s really special, look for the village with the most weirdo’s - and I mean that in the nicest possible way. In fact, those very weirdo’s are all my dearest friends.

Eccentric is good. Especially when it comes to staging cultural events. So that’s why we all trooped off to Williston at the launch of our 2011 Namaqua Flower Safari - just to get that dust between our feet, to hear the love songs of the local Nama people - and to eat outrageous festival food, which mostly comes fried and on a stick.

This year the Northern Cape provincial government gave great support to the Williston Winter Festival, the brainchild of Pieter and Elmarie Naude, who own the local ‘mall’. Who am I kidding? The Williston Mall is also known as Die Ark - some even call it the Junkyard. Whatever. You go there on a bleeding hot summer’s day in the Upper Karoo and ask for a Mall Milkshake. Then just sit back and watch Cloud 9 float on by.

We had half of the Radio Kalahari Orkes; the whole Silver Creek Mountain Band; Boeta Gammies, the Elvis of the Upper Karoo; Reel dancing teams from as far afield as Brandvlei - even the Chicken Man in his superhero costume was there, catching the eggs being thrown at him.

The guy who seemed to have the best fun was one Ryno Ferreira from Cradock, who drove the Silver Creek all the way across the Great Karoo in his Land Rover Defender. He then joined a Boere Orkes (band) for the first evening as their drummer, worked as prime roadie for the Creek when it came time to move equipment around and backed me up as official photographer covering the festival.

I have never seen one man rush about doing so many things - quite so cheerfully…

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