Take a trip south to splashy fen

Musa Ndwandwe

Musa Ndwandwe

Ever wondered why the N3 carriageway demonstrates a heavy traffic bias southwards especially over the Easter long weekend?

Where exactly do all the cars and buses, meandering down south from Limpopo, Johannesburg and Free State, disappear to?

Since inception, 19 years ago, the Splashy Fen has snowballed from an exclusive weird music festival to one of the big events on the KwaZulu-Natal calendar.

The Splashy Fen "way of life" offers camping facilities, an arts and crafts showcase, hiking, helicopter flips, hot air ballooning, horse riding and kite-flying.

In a country where racial prejudice often rears its ugly head, South Africans are blessed to have events such as the Splashy Fen. Its strength is its ability to mix all races without taking notice of skin-deep differences.

The festival is held on the farm Splashy Fen, situated 19km from Underberg in the southern Drakensberg mountains.

While the focus of the music in its early years was folk and light folk rock, as well as mbaqanga and isichathamiya, the focus has broadened to include mainstream rock and pop.

"Only genuine, original music is played at Splashy Fen," said festival organiser Bart Fokkens.

From an inaugural audience of 1200 people in 1990, Splashy Fen now attracts 10 000 revellers. The array of artists includes the best in folk, blues, rock, indigenous as well as pop and electro-dance.

According to Fokkens: "The musicians' camp, tent-hotel and designated family camp sites have been relocated, and clever combinations of fencing make the craft market, food traders and all-important beer garden even more attractive and accessible to festival-goers. A top priority is the safety and security.

"We have strong police support from the SAPS, which includes undercover police and roadblocks to and from the festival."

This should go a long way towards allaying fears of the Splashy Fen as a haven for unrestricted drug use and open-air sex - Woodstock style.

Growing numbers at each festival seem to indicate that devotees do enjoy a sense of safety and security.

There is an around-the-clock medical facility.

With 30 different outlets, the food court is guaranteed to cater for all tastes, from potjiekos to meals for the health conscious.

As is the case each year, a percentage of proceeds will be donated to local charities.

No wonder this longest-running South African music festival has graduated to become the ultimate outdoor experience.