Eighteen species of venison and 80 dishes on offer? Sign us up!
Once a year, a few thousand people descend on De Oude Kraal Country Estate south of Bloemfontein for the WildsKOSfees with one thing in mind: to get their fill of venison dishes.
Never again, said Gerhard and Marie Lombard after they hosted the first festival on their guest farm De Oude Kraal 16 years ago. “Only 30 people came,” Gerhard recalls, “but we gave in when our friends asked us very nicely to do it again.”
In 2014, a whisker more than 3 000 people from all over the country came out to tuck into the Lombards’ venison dishes. There was meat from 18 species on offer, and about 80 dishes to choose from: springbok, blue wildebeest, warthog, porcupine, crocodile… And you could taste rabbit pie, springbok tongue, warthog sausage, blue-wildebeest sausage, deer-meat rolls called blindevinkies,
kudu sosaties, tripe and pofadders (caul fat stuffed with minced liver and kidneys).
Every single dish is made by Marie, and it takes her and her team three months to prepare everything.
“Our forebears gave venison a bad name – or, rather, a bad taste. They soaked the meat in vinegar or red wine, and then it tasted sour. Cream, milk and buttermilk, for instance, work very well to temper the gamey taste of venison. My other secret ingredient is white pepper.”
Marie says they use only female animals killed with a clean head shot. The animals shouldn’t be stressed when they’re shot; the stress hormones affect the taste of the meat. Then they hang the carcasses in the skin for three weeks. They’re not hung through the heel sinew but from rope tied around the legs. “All of this ensure the quality of the meat,” Marie explains.
Although this novel festival is held in the heart of winter in the heart of the Free State, there is plenty to keep visitors warm. There are fires everywhere, and mountains of wood to keep them going until the early hours of the morning. You amble from stall to stall and eat one venison delicacy after the other. Freshly braaied. And because this kind of meat indulgence works up quite a thirst, a wide variety of our country’s best wines are on offer to taste and to buy.
If you’re still cold, you could walk over to the kudu-dung spitting course and see how far you can propel a pellet. But first you take a swig of >
mampoer; it heats things up nicely.
Ruan du Preez manages to spit his pellet only 2m. “Nee, hel, that mampoer took my breath away!”
A tractor and trailer ferries groups of people through the veld. A helicopter flies other people over the farm in a wide loop. There is clay-pigeon and target shooting, horse riding and even a place to whack golf balls. It’s a farm visit with plenty of spirit.
When the sun ducks behind the horizon in the west, a huge flat-screen TV is switched on. Invariably, they don’t only eat springbok here – they also watch them play.
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The farmyard at De Oude Kraal is something else. The farm has been in Marie’s family for generations. Enormous trees surround the old farmhouse, and snow-white ducks swim lazily in ponds in the garden. A silver-and-black dappled dachshund puppy takes a...
Things really start hotting up at lunch time. Annike van der Walt is a farm girl from the Free State and has no qualms about scampering down the huge inflatable slide with wild jumps, hops and screams. Several singers and groups make music throughout...
Visitors are taken on a leisurely outing on a tractor and trailer. Annalize van Tonder, Igor Baard and Piet van Tonder were the head honchos at the blue wildebeest counter. This is a meat festival – you can have veggies again at home tomorrow....
At the House of Froggit stall you’ll find all manner of sauces. Leon Engelbrecht, who sells these sauces from the Western Cape in Bloemfontein, feeds you one spoonful after the other: chocolate-chilli balsamic reduction, eggplant salad dressing…...