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Cradock looks forward to festival

Town ready to host wholesome culinary experience of Karoo fare

The Cradock community is ready to welcome visitors to the annual Karoo Food Festival, supported by SPAR Eastern Cape, from April 29 to May 1
FULL OF FLAVOUR: The Cradock community is ready to welcome visitors to the annual Karoo Food Festival, supported by SPAR Eastern Cape, from April 29 to May 1
Image: Supplied

Cradock residents, and those further afield, are licking their lips in anticipation of another exciting Karoo Food Festival at the end of April.

The annual gathering, supported by SPAR Eastern Cape, celebrates the wholesome culinary experience of Karoo fare and will take place from April 29 to May 1.

The core theme of the festival, which started in 2013, is to provide festivalgoers with the opportunity to taste the traditional dishes associated with the region and, in particular, the world-renowned Karoo lamb.

But co-organiser Lisa Ker said the festival’s concept was wider than just sampling Karoo delicacies.

“This is a platform to attract people to our town and to bring the local community together, which is something a food festival can do,” she said.

Ker, whose family runs accommodation establishments in Cradock, is a member of the local voluntary organisation that hosts the festival.

“Obviously, the centrepiece comprises the food stalls, but we have tapped into the broader community to offer other activities.

“For instance, we have linked up with Old Mutual, which is organising a trail and social run, while we also profile local cooks and chefs, who provide demonstrations and talks on their skills.

“There are opportunities to go canoeing or to play golf or tennis, so we use all our local resources to make it a community-focused occasion.”

SPAR Eastern Cape sponsorships and events manager Alan Stapleton said it was wonderful to be able to move into the country and support  communities away from the cities.

“It is close to our hearts, and bringing communities together in a spirit of fun and camaraderie is always special,” he said.

Ker said  it was essential to involve the whole community and  the 70 to 80 storeholders each employed about four people.

“It’s an opportunity to promote the town and the trendy topic of Karoo food, but also to give members of our community a purpose through the employment opportunities which exist and to give them hope.

“We assist in training these people in the workings of a festival and then we are able to use them at other functions or similar occasions during the year.”

She paid tribute to the support provided by both the SPAR Eastern Cape head office and the retail outlet in Cradock.

“Without them, it’s doubtful that we would have been able to sustain this festival.

“We strive to run the festival as professionally as possible and SPAR has really helped us with marketing and ensuring that the stores operate smoothly.”

Ker, who is also involved with the writers’ festival in the town, said they had started out with low expectations but were excited at the growth of the event.

“Literally, whatever is authentic and important in the Karoo food-wise will be on offer and it is getting bigger.

“This time we are up to about 80 storeholders and previous festivals have brought in R2m to the town’s economy.

“This year I’m expecting it to be more,” she said.

“People come here because they have very specific ideas of what they want to taste, while we encourage young entrepreneurs to become involved.

“There are opportunities such as the potjiekos competition to display your culinary skills, all of which take place in a safe and gentle environment driven by the local community.”

Find more information on the Karoo Food Festival’s Facebook page.

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