The Karoo Food Festival will soon return to celebrate the culinary experiences on offer in the region. It will be held in Cradock from April 29 to May 1.
The festival’s core theme is to provide festival-goers, both local and from out of town, with the opportunity to taste the traditional dishes associated with the region and, in particular, the world-renowned Karoo lamb.
Co-Organiser, Lisa Ker, points out that the festival’s concept is wider than just sampling Karoo delicacies. “This is a platform to attract people to our town and to bring the local community together, which is something a food festival can do.”
Ker, whose family run accommodation establishments in Cradock, is a member of the local voluntary organisation that hosts the festival. “Obviously, the centrepiece comprises the food stalls, but we have tapped into the broader community to offer other activities such as the potjiekos competition,” she explains.
“For instance, we have linked up with Old Mutual, who is organising a trail and social run, while we also profile local cooks and chefs who provide demonstrations and talks on their skills. There are opportunities to go canoeing or to play golf or tennis, so we use all our local resources to make it a community-focused occasion.”
Ker says it was essential to involve the whole community, therefore the 70 to 80 stall holders each employ about four people.
“It’s an opportunity to promote the town and the trendy topic of Karoo food, but also to give members of our community a purpose through the employment opportunities that exist and to give them hope. We assist in training these people in the workings of a festival and then we are able to use them at other functions or similar occasions during the year,” she adds.
Ker is also grateful for the support provided by both Spar Eastern Cape head office and the retail outlet in Cradock. “Without them it’s doubtful that we would have been able to sustain this festival.
“Through their support, we have been able to provide T-shirts for the festival workers, make rubbish bins available, and create a system of using recyclable containers, which ties in with Spar’s drive to protect the natural environment.”
The rise of culinary tourism
Culinary or food tourism is a way for travellers to explore a destination through sampling the food it has on offer, which is an effective way of learning about a culture and area because visitors can experience first-hand where the food came from, how it was prepared, the cultural settings it is eaten in, and more.
Supporting local farms and small restaurants by indulging in culinary tourism also helps support local businesses, especially from a marketing point of view, by sharing photos of food on social media.
Food tourism is also an inherently social experience, as diners can gather at a table to share the culinary experience together, allowing them to meet other travellers as well as locals while sampling local cuisine.