Sedgefield is a town that easily fools the uninitiated visitor. The casual observer is completely unaware of the beauty hidden behind the unimposing façade visible from the N2. Those who take the time to turn off from the N2, quickly discovers a gem from which they part with difficulty.
During the Easter weekend, the little town of Sedgefield turns orange for the celebration of the Sedgefield Slow Festival. The festival saw its humble beginning in 2010 when a few local residents came together with a dream to showcase the town and its many attractions and also to assist local charities in raising funds.
Sedgefield is the only town in Africa that is currently certified as a Slow Town by Cittaslow International. According to the Cittaslow Manifesto, slow towns are “towns where people are still curious of the times of old, towns rich in theatres, squares, cafes, workshops, restaurants and spiritual places, towns with untouched landscapes and charming craftsman where people are still able to recognize the slow course of the Seasons and their genuine products respecting tastes, health and spontaneous customs…”
The Sedgefield Slow Festival could therefore not be more aptly named. Since its inception the festival has excelled in involving the local community, showcasing the town and its natural splendour, and promoting slow living by having “Fun! The way it used to be…”
The spill around which everything rotates is the Village Green. Located in the centre of town, adjacent to the Swartvlei estuary, this is where most of the activities take place. The entertainment tent is situated here, surrounded by food and craft stalls and a beer garden hosted by Mitchell’s Brewery. The Village Green also plays host to events such as the Slow Festival Opening Event, the Mitchell’s Easter Music Experience, the Dog Walk Talk & Show, the Slow Biking Challenge and, an event that is considered one of the highlight by the local community, the Easter Celebration with Choir & Dances.
One of the highlights of the events on the Village Green is a TLC Benefit Concert by international acclaimed singer/songwriter, Auriol Hays. She will also be performing during the Slow Festival Opening Night as well as the Mitchell’s Easter Music Experience.
The festival is a dream for outdoor and sport enthusiasts! The Goukamma Traverse trail run has been one of the key events from the festival’s inception and is widely considered as one of the best trail runs, not only in the Garden Route, but in South Africa. The festival also offers a plethora of other out-of-doors events like the Slow Players Welcome Tennis Day, Barefoot Bowls, the Pili Pili Slow Fest SUP (stand up paddling) Race, the exciting Sedge Links Night Golf Challenge and a Family Fun 5km Trail Run. With the popularity of Fat Bikes in South Africa, the Slow Festival will have its inaugural Garden Route Fat Bike Challenge.
Some of the events during the Slow Festival attained ‘cult following’ status. One of these is definitely the Anything that Floats, an event where teams build their own rafts and race on Swartvlei lagoon, the other is Movies with the Stars which started out as an old fashioned drive-in theatre but has evolved into a movies-in-the-park event.
Lakeside Lodge & Spa will be hosting the Grand Gatsby High Tea while the Amazing Race by Car takes participants on an amazing treasure hunt through the surrounding area. The Sedgefield Amateur Dramatics Society will be performing an abridged version of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Sedgefield Station. On Friday afternoon ‘Instagrammers’ will have an InstaWalk on Swartvlei Beach – one of Sedgefield’s 5 beaches – while Sunday’s Sand Sculpting Challenge takes place on Myoli Beach.
The Way of the Cross, an ecumenical Cristian pilgrimage meandering through town, is a spiritual celebration of Easter, while the Easter Sunday Sunrise Service is an opportunity for all Christians to celebrate the resurrection.
The festival has much to offer for the kids, with both the e² Young Engineers and Magic Mosaic Interactions on the Village Green, Funky Bunny Fun at Scarab Market, the very popular Out of the Bin Fashion Show and the Environmental Awareness Show in the entertainment tent on the Village Green, and the Easter Bunny Beach Dash on Myoli Beach, the whole family will have much to do during the festival.
The town comes out in force for the Easter Street & Band Parade, snaking its way through town on Sunday. Recently crowned Miss South Africa and Sedgefield local, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, once led this parade as Miss Slow Fest, and will do so once again during this year’s parade.
The 2017 Sedgefield Slow Festival takes place from Thursday 13 to Sunday 16 April. For the full program and entry fees to the different events, please visit the Sedgefield Slow Festival website or pick up a copy of the special orange edition of the local newspaper, The EDGE Community Newspaper, published on Wednesday 12 April.
You can contact the Sedgefield Slow Festival on 072 949 3002 (Amanda) or 078 429 7728 (Riana)
Find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/slowfestival.co.za/
Or visit their website at http://slowfestival.co.za/
Find Cittaslow on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cittaslow/
Or visit their website at http://www.cittaslow.org