The 23 rd Shell Festival has come and gone and the general consensus is that the Festival is back onto the right track after a long and steady decline over the past number of years.
This is not to say that the Skulpiefees is where we all want it to be. Comments like “there was not much to do”, ” it was the same as last year” and “still too many foreigners selling cheap imports” must be taken into consideration because it is genuine feedback from people who actually took the time out and came and visited the festival.
Yet there were many positives that came out of the Shell Festival as well. The foreigners were regulated this year and the Law Enforcement officers stood up and forced them to move to their designated area when attempts were made to set up stalls wherever they felt like it.
The South African Police were on the look out for fake goods as well as drugs and overall the security at the Shell Festival was an improvement on previous years.
The Dive Festival was a welcome addition and despite some teething problems, attracted a new market to Jeffreys Bay. The 10 m visibility experienced on Saturday showcased the awesome reefs that can be found in our bay.
“We are very happy with how the Festival went and are looking at growing it for next year”, said Neville Mare from the Jeffreys Bay Underwater Club.
“Visiting divers are amazed with what can be seen here and will be back for more dives in the future”, added Mare.
The national Volleyball competition added a new flavour to the Shell Festival as well. “Everything went according to plan and hopefully the tournament will be back in Jeffreys Bay for next year’s Shell Festival”, said Trevor Watkins, a local who took part in the tournament.
Stall holders were also enthusiastic about the Festival. One prominent food stall reported that takings were very similar to last year which was better than expected as the economic downturn has affected people’s pockets and they are not spending as much money at Festivals as they did in the past.
Other stall holders reported that they are satisfied with sales and will be back next year. This is good news, especially as the Shell Festival was essentially cut short by one day when pouring rain on Sunday kept people away.
The Festival peaked on Saturday afternoon as thousands of people meandered their way through the stalls and watched volleyball or took their kids for rides at the fun fair.
2011 can go down as the year the Shell Festival began its recovery and we all look forward to a bigger and better Festival in 2012.
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