By CASEY LUDICK and STEVEN LANG
Wood chips and white tents cover the sports fields at Victoria Girls High, as the Village Green craft market is set up to cater for festinos shopping for goods they won’t find at home.
After a two-year Covid-induced absence, the vendors are back in all their festival glory and are excited to be trading in Makhanda again.
The Village Green will be a bit thinner this year, but vendors are optimistic that the journey here will be worth their while.
“We used to make our livelihood at festivals,” said Bespoke Leatherwise owner Mike Wise, but he and his wife Anne have since set up stores in Durban, Joburg, and Cape Town, which they supply from their factory in Plettenberg Bay.
Mike says he started leather work at age 13 and founded Leatherwise 32 years ago.
He said he had doubled his staff since the pandemic’s start, but they have no idea what to expect when trading at the festival this year.
Biltong King, run by the Els family from Gqeberha, was idle during the heavy lockdowns but is back with two of their trucks at the Village Green this year, one less than they usually bring to the festival.
Reinard ‘Ryno’ Els will be handling the post at the entrance to the Village Green, with the other truck near the beer tent. “Beer and biltong, what a combo,” says Els.
The company has been running for more than 30 years and travels to all the major festivals in the Eastern Cape, including the Graaff Reinet’s Stoep Tasting Wine Weekend and Kirkwood’s Wildsfees. Els expects to turn over about R100 000 at this year’s NAF and is planning a mid-fest shipment to top up his stock.
Long-time fest vendor Dragon Gems is run by sister combo Dorina and Nadine Concannon. They work primarily along the Garden Route.
Nadine said she doesn’t know what to expect at NAF this year, considering how the pandemic has affected the festival scene. She hopes they make more than enough to cover costs, but they’re here to support the arts.
“We come to support the town and the arts and keep the festival alive.”
Oily Spoils and Hallo Jane are two businesses in one stall, owned by Jaynie Nieuwout. Hello Jane sells silver jewellery, prints and laser-cut design items, while Oily Spoils focuses on personal hygiene products using essential oils, as well as spices infused with edible essential oils.
Hallo Jane started in Strand in 2016 and is trading at the fest for the third time, while it’s a fest debut for Oily Spoils, which Nieuwout started during the lockdown in 2020.
Nieuwout’s mother, Hester Katrina “Hettie” Potgieter, said she expects to make a solid profit even though travel, accommodation, and stall rental will suck up about R24 000.