Grahamstown's Jolly Month of July

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Friday, 31st July 2015

The advent of the seventh month coincides with Grahamstown’s hosting of the National Arts Festival. Annually, our pretty little city is totally transformed by our many visitors from elsewhere. During the 11 Days of Amazing ... we get to feel like a Rather Large City!

The atmosphere is glorious and contagious. Everyone is full of the joy of life and our small valley is turgid with abundant creativity. Rivalled only by the Edinburgh Festival, our Arts Festival is a quintessential component of the Grahamstown experience. Artists, craftspeople and visitors from all over the world swell our ranks for this feast of aesthetics and serious socialising. Festival food is yummy – featuring local and exotic specialities in its diverse range of established and pop up restaurants and plethora of food stalls. Bargains abound – particularly in clothing. Above all is that we are treated to the crème de la crème of musicians, dancers, performers and visual artists. It is a time of celebrating Beauty with a pervasive generosity of spirit that exceeds that of Christmas. Even if one is broke, there is always a party somewhere, 24/7!

The Arts Festival of 2015 was especially successful on every level. Grahamstonians mobilised like a well oiled machine. Traffic and parking were well organised, SAPS and local security firms did us proud regarding safety and the line up of shows was especially fabulous. Seemingly it was financially successful for most stakeholders and there is nothing like a decent profit to lift the spirits especially during these tough economic times. Also heartening was the growth of the Fingo Festival in terms of events and attendance. Its organisers were encouraged by the increased success of this indigenous, high density initiative and intend going from strength to strength in forthcoming years.

In short, the National Arts Festival this year was definitely Proudly South African!

Likewise the Schools Festival that followed swiftly thereafter. The talent of our young ones is, to put it mildly, quietly mind boggling. As is the pastoral care of their educators. Specifically those who put in all the extra hours and hard work entailed in preparing learners to participate in or attend extra mural activities such as this. I salute these dedicated individuals for whom teaching clearly is a vocation. Would that their example be followed by all in this crucial profession!

July 2015 has also been marked by many birthdays, particularly of children. Many of my girlfriends from all walks of life, have given birth during July in the past decade. It must be something about the sultry, sensual month of October! Kid’s birthday parties are hugely entertaining – especially when the little darlings are on a major sugar high and the fun and games begin! Tears, tantrums and much conflict resolution required. Parenting is not for the fainthearted. Interestingly, most families I know reside in Grahamstown because it is small with clean air, excellent education facilities and it’s a child-friendly environment. That’s ubercool, all 21st century challenges considered.

Written by KJ Guteridge                    

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