By Mariëtte Burger Get festival ready!
Once again, we must commend the organisers of the Karoo-lus Festival for their commitment and dedication.
And since the event is so close, it’s time for us to get excited about attending.
There are many reasons for us to be supportive.
Besides it being a fun, well-managed festival, the event offers a host of economic and social benefits to the community.
The economic benefits are the easiest to see - the festival attracts visitors, which stimulates the growth of tourism and other businesses in the town.
The social benefits of the festival are less visible, but they are just as important.
I think its fair to say that, since inception, this festival has contributed immensely to feelings of social cohesion in Graaff-reinet - one of the best thing about Karoo-lus over the years for me has always been that the organisers consistently try to involve as many members of the local community as possible with the planning and hosting of the festival itself, creating an opportunity for townsfolk to foster a sense of pride and engage with all sections of the community.
In my career at the Advertiser, I've seen few events accomplish this to the same degree.
The main benefit? Stronger relationships. Most of the relationship-building of any festival usually occurs in the festival planning phase - this is where the bonds among public and private organisations, local government, and neighbourhood groups are forged and where connections among elected officials, staff, volunteers and interested residents are made.
Assuming everything else goes well, the payoff to this relationship-building is a successful festival. But the benefits last well beyond the event, as people connect who would otherwise have continued to operate in silos.
Connections are the "glue" that hold communities together. Without them, a community stagnates and the quality of life declines. Experts call this glue social capital, so viewed through this lens - this festival has, over the past eight years, played a vital role in increasing the social capital that makes for a healthy Graaff-reinet community.
Unfortunately, this year Graaff-reinet will experience its last Karoo-lus. A huge loss to all of us.
I hope Graaff-reinetters will take this last opportunity to celebrate, enjoy the food, music, culture, art and more - make the most of what Karoo-lus has to offer!
With Graaff-reinet’s wealth of culture, heritage and wonderful way of life, it only makes sense that we honour and celebrate what we have with a festival just as unique as the town we love.