SPE­CIAL RE­PORT: BULL RUN

This Oc­to­ber, the Bull Run once again de­scended on the North­ern Cape town of Van­wyksvlei… and as per tra­di­tion, it was a week­end packed with ac­tion – and lots of dust.

Go! Camp & Drive - - CONTENTS - Text Schalk Jonker Pho­tos Evan Naudé, Piet van Heerde and Piet van Wyk

The Bull Run is an event without equal in South Africa. This Septem­ber, at the end of the short, thirdterm school hol­i­days, nearly 150 teams from across the coun­try put thou­sands of kilo­me­tres be­hind them to come and play with their ve­hi­cles in the dust of Van­wyksvlei. The rules are sim­ple: your car must be a year-model older than 1980, and it may not cost you more than R25 000.

Then you gather a bunch of team­mates – we ad­vise choos­ing at least one per­son who un­der­stands the in­ner work­ings of a car en­gine – in­vite a group of cheer­lead­ers to sup­port you, and then (prover­bially) shoot the lights out, as you ex­pe­ri­ence this colour­ful an­nual fes­ti­val over the course of three days. As is to be ex­pected, there was lots of dust. But this year there was also more ex­cite­ment, and par­tic­i­pants took the fun and ad­ven­ture to the next level.

The town of Van­wyksvlei has be­come syn­ony­mous with the Bull Run, thanks to the on­go­ing suc­cess of this event. And this town has a spe­cial place in the heart of ev­ery Bull Run­ner, be­cause you don’t en­counter hos­pi­tal­ity like this of­ten. We wanted to find out a bit more about the town and its in­hab­i­tants, so we sat down for a chat with Jan la Grange, a farmer in the area, and a friend of the Bull Run.

“Here at Van­wyksvlei, on the edge of the Ka­roo and Boes­man­land, we largely farm sheep,” he ex­plains. “Not many peo­ple know about our lit­tle town, be­cause Van­wyksvlei isn’t on any main roads or >

routes. Ob­vi­ously, the ex­cep­tion to this is the Bull Run par­tic­i­pants and their sup­port­ers!

“The big­gest source of em­ploy­ment around here is pri­mar­ily the agri­cul­tural sec­tor, which makes use of farm labour­ers. Be­sides this, a large sec­tion of the lo­cal com­mu­nity is de­pen­dent on some form of gov­ern­ment grant. In terms of agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion, things are still quite tough here, as the re­gion is in the process of re­cov­er­ing from the worst drought in over a cen­tury.

“In the Van­wyksvlei area there are about 20 ac­tive farm­ers (and their spouses), who live on their land and de­rive their pri­mary in­come from farm­ing. So things have been dif­fi­cult, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of de­spair and self-pity.

“But the an­nual Bull Run gives us a de­gree of es­capism. There are about 10 farm­ers who roll up their sleeves each year and get stuck in to mak­ing the Bull Run a suc­cess by help­ing at the camp­site and cook­ing meals, without ex­pect­ing any com­pen­sa­tion for it. They work to­gether >

for months to im­prove the Bull Run ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Why? Be­cause it ben­e­fits the peo­ple of Van­wyksvlei. This event pro­vides gain­ful em­ploy­ment for about 40 mem­bers of the com­mu­nity.” In pre­vi­ous years, par­tic­i­pants of the Bull Run were ex­pected to bring gifts and es­sen­tial items with them for the com­mu­nity. But this year, we did things a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. The orig­i­nal founders of the Bull Run, Her­mie Koen and Rieger van Rooyen, have de­cided to cre­ate a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion that will pro­vide sus­tain­able job op­por­tu­ni­ties for the peo­ple of Van­wyksvlei. “The Bull Run doesn’t just bring a bunch of peo­ple into town; it also pro­vides un­be­liev­able op­por­tu­ni­ties in the form of dona­tions, feed­ing, job op­por­tu­ni­ties, and above all, mar­ket­ing,” says Jan. “And for that, we are thank­ful.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.