The Free State Flower Festival will take place this Friday and Saturday in Parys.
The Festival will comprise three parts, being the Flower Forum, a Flower Precinct and a massive Flower Parade. It will be the largest Flower Parade in SA history and will feature 600 performers, five massive floats, giant flowers and fireworks, alongside an amazing floral storytelling precinct.
According to a statement supplied by the provincial government, a total of 20 000 flowers is expected to be used per float – taking the flower usage to in excess of 100 000 flowers for the entire festival.
The event is a joint venture between the governments of the Free State and the Autonomous State of Madeira, who host the world’s largest flower festival on the Portuguese island every April. The statement states that the festival is the brainchild of Free State Premier, Ace Magashule, and Madeira President, Miguel Albuquerque, which follows a trade visit to the Portuguese island earlier this year.
The event will be attended by both Magashule and Albuquerque and its objective is to stimulate the flower industry in the province and to fast track opportunities around export.
The statement also reads that the majority of African flower exports into Europe currently emanate from Kenya and it is hoped that through the Madeiran link, the event will unlock critical opportunities for South African growers.
Summarised description of three components:
- Flower Forum (Conference): It will be on Friday: A gathering of leading local and international experts from the flower industry; incorporating presentations on local, national and world trends. Attendees and speakers will include botanists, floriculturists, horticulturists, farmers, retailers and wholesalers. The theme of the Forum will be “Unlocking flower export opportunities for SA”. Speakers include world expert Herman de Boon from Netherlands, President of Union Fleurs, Jac Duif, secretary of the SA Flower Growers Association and Filipe Teixera, a Madeiran Government representative, who will also announce an export tariff scheme through Madeira into Europe.
- Palesa Precinct: It will take place on Friday and Saturday. This will be an area, where several floral exhibits will be located. These will include regional exhibitors, wholesalers, retailers and food and beverage providers. Various activities and fun-themed events will be staged over the two days of the Festival and will provide entertainment for the entire family. Among the highlights will be dance and musical performances and various floral competitions. The highlight of the Precinct will be the daily staging of a musical theatre production, “The Gathering of the Flowers – specially created for the Festival and starring Gcina Mhlophe as the African storyteller. It tells the tale of the flowers that gather to celebrate our heritage and deliberate the drought that has been ravaging the land. It includes toe-tapping original music, giant talking flower puppets, dancers, singers and spectacular costumes and lighting effects.
- Flower Parade: Starts on Saturday afternoon, the tourism highlight of the event will be this extravaganza of colour, featuring 630 choreographed performers, adorned in flowers and magnificent floral outfits. Participants, many of whom will be children, will parade in one choreographed movement, through Breë Street, the main street in Parys. They will be on float processions, in dance groups or featured in spectacular floral displays. There will be five floats of 20 000 flowers, representing each region of the Free State. Each float will perform two main songs in front of the VIP enclosure. There will be a total of 18 songs during the entire Parade, including Nkalakatha by Mandoza, Sesfikile by Popstars, Margarita by Choppa and Burn by Ellie Goulding, the current theme song of Free State Tourism. There will also be 130 Portuguese and Madeiran dancers, who will perform to Portuguese favourites, Muinto Choreieu and Casa Dos Poveiros. The Parade is 1,2km long and finishes at the Precinct at the Kommando Site in Kruis Street.