I helped a friend (who sells delicious corn dogs) man his stalletjie at the Makiti over the weekend and, to be diplomatic, I’d call the weekend an “interesting” turnout.
On Friday, the first day of the Makiti, the wind raced through the Jeffreys Bay Caravan Park, the chosen venue, like a ‘bok wing on steroids.
One of the large mess tents couldn’t handle the pressure and dove for cover, leaving a crew of workers trying for hours to coax it back up, unsuccessfully.
Visitors were scant.
At times it felt like we were sitting on the stoep of a house in the middle of the Karoo, scouting the horison for a spec of dust to signal the coming of a long awaited friend. It was like trying to find a loaf of bread in Zimbabwe.
Saturday saw the weather clear up a little, but it was still a miserable day in comparison to previous gems we’d enjoyed in September.
Stalletjie sales climbed and my friend, who’s far more positive than I (I’m a pessimist-leaning realist), thought he’d manage to make his target for the day. He didn’t.
I strolled to the music stage every now and then. It was disheartening to see musicians singing to rows and rows of empty white chairs. It looked like they were performing in a necropolis.
On Saturday evening Adam performed. This was probably the most successful show of the event. Attendance was poorer than they deserve, but it seemed better than for other acts.
Then came Sunday.
Sunday was supposed to be the zenith of the event. Corlea, Elvis Blue and Demi Lee Moore were supposed to offer a sweet conclusion to an otherwise dismal weekend.
But the day was off to a disastrous start, with weather as friendly as a pirate captain suffering from a babelaas.
Rain bucketed down at times, making it impossible for festival goers to, well, go festival.
The wind didn’t help either, with gusts sweeping sheets of rain into our little stalletjie (and others).
The only respite I could find was the sierjaslie lekker caramel and melktert pannekoeke a few stalletjies up from us.
Not long before the main acts were supposed to transport us to a musical Utopia, lighting struck, bringing with it the immediate cancellation of the JBay Makiti.
It was a sad conclusion to something that could have been a triumphant follow-up to last year’s event.
After the Makiti we deliberated on how the event could have been made a success.
It was clear that inclement weather played its part in fouling up the weekend, but is it a case of, “it is what it is”?
In my opinion, no.
I know it’s not easy to arrange an event of this magnitude, and I’m sure organisers did the best they could given the conditions, but perhaps they might learn a thing or two through feedback received from stall owners and festival goers (and weather).
One complaint among some stall owners was that there were too many food stalls. Another complaint along the same lines was that the layout didn’t cater to food stalls properly. One food stall owner mentioned that the organisers should have created more of a food court feel, instead of dotting food stalls along the breadth and width of the Makiti.
The blown over tent was an obvious issue. This could have given festival goers the necessary cover for those periods when the rain poured down.
We also discussed venues. For instance, using the Jeffreys Bay Primary School rugby field and grounds would allow for the use of more tents, or bigger tents. It might also offer more cover from wind.
Someone brought up Milkwood Market as a possible venue. Milkwood Market as it currently stands could serve as the food court, while the open land next to Fountains Mall, behind Milkwood, could be used for housing a stage and other activities.
As for the weather, speaking to a calamari fisherman friend of mine brought to light the fact that September is not the best time of year for this sort of jol. Perhaps they should look at moving the Makiti closer to December. But just speaking to fishermen might cast more light on what the best time of year for the Makiti would be.
It was sad to see such a magnificent opportunity not deliver to its full potential. Yes, the weather played a major part, but there were other aspects that, if handled differently, might have delivered a better result.
Were you at the Makiti? Do you have any suggestions to make next year a roaring success, even if the weather is terrible?