Rocking fest for Nieu Bethesda

IT may be known for legendary playwright Athol Fugard and its iconic Owl House but there's a lot more to Nieu Bethesda, as the quaint Karoo village will demonstrate this weekend.

Music, theatre, artworks, children's plays and even an anti-fracking debate are on the cards as the annual Nieu Bethesda Festival kicks off for four days of activities.

According to resident artist Charmaine Haines, one of the headline acts will be the Radio Kalahari Orkes band – fronted by actor Ian Roberts – performing a folk-rock pastiche of "boeremusiek" with authentic acoustic instruments such as a tin guitar, banjo, mandolin and accordion.

"Other artists in the line-up are seven-piece band The Brothers, from Port Elizabeth, Anna Davel, Chris Wait, Kaalvoet du Toit, Kathy Raven and Jamie Jupiter."

Haines said a central focus would be the anti-fracking debate on Saturday with an anti-fracking poster parade at 3.30pm.

Saturday includes a mountain bike "poker dash challenge" of about 50km while Martins Street – named after Helen of Owl House fame – will be closed off so that festival-goers can enjoy the stalls and the entertainment in the festival tent, which will include the Kingswood jazz band.

A number of artists will be exhibiting in their individual studios and galleries while other features include a writers' workshop, fossil excursions and village tour of Fugard's inspirational places.