Crowds flood port festival

Boost for small business as tens of thousands turn up to enjoy Bay event

Small businesses in Nelson Mandela Bay received a major boost when tens of thousands of people flocked to the People’s Port Festival at the weekend.

The Port of Port Elizabeth was a hub of activity with maritime career exhibitions, mock rescues by the navy, vessels to board, sea-life exhibitions as well as art on display for residents to enjoy.

Business owners hailed the festival a success, calling it a rare opportunity to attract new customers.

On Saturday, about 25 000 people had attended the festival.

The number of festival goers yesterday was estimated to have exceeded the Saturday crowd, although organisers said the exact figure would only be known today.

Happiness, sweets and treats’ owner Stefane de Kock said the festival was a great opportunity.

“We have had a lot of people wanting to make orders for birthdays and weddings; it has been very exciting and I hope that this could be an annual and maybe even a twice-a-year thing,” De Kock said.

Securing a stall at the festival was relatively cheap at about R350 for both days, she said.

“The price we paid for the stalls and the advertising was fantastic. Normally for the advertising and the stall we’d pay double or triple the amount.”

Popular eatery Bocadillos bakery and restaurant co-owner Lauren van Deventer said the pop-up restaurant had been fully booked for a fine dining experience on Saturday afternoon.

“We are very proud of our involvement in the festival,” she said.

“People have been coming through to experience what we are most popular for – our cakes – and they have been sharing it on Facebook and Instagram.”

A group of women from the Missionvale Care Centre, who also had their beadwork on display, said the festival would help raise awareness of the work being done at the centre.

Bonita Serfontein said their beadwork was flying off the tables.

“We are very surprised by the response from people, our beadwork is doing really well and this is the perfect opportunity for people to see what we are doing at the centre,” Serfontein said. Apart from delicious food offered by food trucks and stalls, the festival brought to residents the Volkswagen Auto Pavilion display and art from popular salt artist Percy Maimela.

The Pretoria-born artist, who started playing around with salt in 2014 when he found some salt spilt on the floor of a shop he was working in, said the reaction to his art from residents had been humbling.

“The salt art is the true reflection of the phrase ‘nothing is permanent’ because no portrait stays on forever and that is what I would like people to take out from my art,” Maimela said.

He had created a portrait of former president Nelson Mandela.

The entertainment included Mafikizolo, Professor and awardwinning East London DJ Mobi Dixon.

Transnet port manager Rajesh Dana said the festival gave residents a glimpse into Transnet’s plans for the Port Elizabeth Harbour.

“Festivalgoers over the weekend would have had a glimpse into our future vision for the Port of Port Elizabeth, which is to transform the port into a smart people’s port,” Dana said.

“Part of a smart people’s port is a waterfront and our waterfront philosophy is to start small in a big way. Festivalgoers saw this in our two newly opened restaurants, Shisa and The Dockside.

“We have started the waterfront in a small but meaningful way – people would have had a sense of what we plan to offer.”

[caption id="attachment_198567" align="alignnone" width="598"] Puddles the clown from Cape Town entertained the crowds at the People’s Port Festival over the weekend. With Puddles are, front left, Keshia Oliver, 10, and back from left, Raymond Oliver, Rodwell Arnold and Erin-Leigh, 4. Picture: Mark West[/caption]