Thursday, 8 September 2011

Hantam vleisfees

Drum majorettes.  Sheep shearing.  Old tractors.  Afrikaans music.  Some of the things you could find at the Hantam vleisfees this weekend.  Even though I do not consider ourselves to be big red meat eaters, we were advised that this is a festival worth attending.  So early on Saturday morning we hopped into the car to go to Calvinia.  Calvinia is just less than 200km from us, inland.  After VanRhynsdorp you climb the VanRhyns pass over the Hantam berge to get to Nieuwoudtville, an about 70km further on you will find the sleepy town of Calvinia.  Veld flowers are still in full bloom, and most of the gardens at the edge of town were turned bright orange.

The festival was a lot of fun.  It reminded me of my childhood when we attended some of these shows.  This one did not disappoint.  It was a bit of a chilly morning, and it did not warm up during most of the day.  This however was not a surprise for the townfolk, and even at the handwork stalls scarves, mittens and balaclavas were for sale.  We watched a bit of the sheep shearing and were amazed to see the skills of hand shearing has not totally disappeared with the advent of electrical alternatives.  There was also a sheep counting competition, but the poor sheep were so intimidated by the crowd they struggled to get them to run to the other pen. 

We started early with a pancake each.  Later on we feasted on lamb sosaties, wors and roosterkoek.  Lucky for us they have run out of sheepshead by the time we got there, as I was not looking forward to join a table with some extra eyes staring at me. 

Just before lunch a coloured crowd from Loeriesfontein performed a “riel dans”.  I know the word from an afrikaans nursery rhyme, but had no idea what it looked like.  Still not sure either, but is resulted in a lot of fun for the spectators.  The group were apparently winners in that area, so it is obviously not something that has gone extinct (yet).  And another group showed their skill at rope jumping whilst performing various other tricks like hand stands etc.  Quite spectacular.  And of course the petit little drum majorettes from the local primary school performed in gale force wind.  All these performances were rounded off by a speech by the local mayor, and an exhibition drive of old vehicles and tractors around the truck.  There were fantastic old cars.

On the way home the sun has created enough heat and light for the veld flowers to open, and the day changed to a flower watching spectacular.  Hennie had to stop about every kilometer for me to take pictures, but pictures just cannot do justice.  We also drove through the Nieuwoudtville veld flower reserve and bought some roosterkoek from local entrepreneurs at the entrance. 

What a lovely day!

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