Locals turn out for first annual biltong festival

Altus Beeston, Corlea Brown, Janay Naicker, Francios Venter, Johan Wessels. Photo: Pierce van Heerden

The first annual Free State Biltong Festival kicked off on Friday 27 July. The two-day event started on a high note with between 260-300 tickets sold on the opening day despite  some uncertainty surrounding people’ s reception of the event and last-minute hiccups.

The event was described as a family-oriented affair that provided fun for the whole family. The kiddies’ area had a jumping castle that the little ones could enjoy whilst their parents could appreciate the musical talent of performers such as Naledi Mohapi and Nelien Smit.

Biltong (which was the main attraction of the festival) was in abundance. The proudly South African snack was sold at some stalls while other stands provided the sale of biltong meals and biltong-related accessories, for example, chopping boards. Artwork and jewellery was also on display.

Demonstrations by one of the local butcheries proved to be an informative session that provided insight into the preservation of meat in the biltong-making process and other ways of preparing meat for a meal.

Biltong Festival goers. Photo: Pierce van Heerden

Corlia Brown, who is a manager at Rambler’s Club, talked about how fascinated she was with the demonstration considering that she comes from a catering background:  “The whole experience with the demonstration by Altus from Gys Die Slagter, explaining the different kinds of meat you can use to make your own biltong, was very interesting,” she said.

One of the stall owners by the name of Fred Diehl, who is originally from Germany but relocated to South Africa a decade ago, had a unique German spice mix on sale. The spice can be added to warmed-up red wine to make a beverage that is usually enjoyed during the cold winter days.

The sunny weather contributed to the success of the festival and allowed everyone to sit under the shade while enjoying the festivities or a biltong meal or two. Spectators could be seen enjoying the jolly, relaxing atmosphere.

Plans are already being made for next year’s festival, which promises to be bigger and better.  Johan Wessels, who was heading the sale of biltong by the Universitas Ridge NG Church, expressed his anticipation in being involved in next year’s biltong festival as well: “We will definitely be here next year. If everything goes well and we are invited, we will be here,” Wessels said. – Molebogeng Malebo