The Festival is upon us and the migratory flocks of various festival following species have returned for another year of cultural overdosing. To make the most of your interactions with these diverse characters, heres a guide to help you co-exist peacefully with the 200 000 other people inhabiting our homely hamlet.
With highly-strung physical and facial expressions, they roam around with large groups of children in tow. Where to find them: At any show with a minuscule amount of educational value to it. May can also be found frantically searching through large crowds for lost learners and frequently heard sighing in disappointment. How to approach: Dont. If you see this Festival-goer approaching the food stands with their young charges in tow, run to beat the herd.
Most commonly seen in fedora hats, Harem pants and a jersey that their granny knitted for them. They try to make their image appeal to all other Festival species. Where to find them: Usually busking with their guitars (which they have named) on any street corner in order to promote their show. How to approach: They usually give out copious amounts of complementary tickets to their gigs, but if this isnt your scene, put in your ear phones and walk on by.
Females often have their hair in high buns and wear leggings and ankle boots. Males either have dreadlocks or are clean shaven. They wear beanies and slippers. Where to find them: Outside the Rhodes drama department, Red Cafe or filling one of the empty seats at their fellow drama students plays. How to approach: Enter the conversation with a willingness to sing the praises of Andrew Buckland, their Rhodes University idol.
Males look like normal males. Females look like normal females. Where to find them: Having beers at the Rat, wandering through Village Green, buying tickets at the Monument and perusing through art galleries. How to approach: Unbelievably, they are normal people! Even though they have more right than anyone to throw their weight around at Fest. Approach with a smile, ask for an autograph, give a pat on the back and hurry on to your next show.
Were used to seeing this species garbed all in orange and playing some sort of percussion instrument, however, even they have entered the 21st century and blended in with the Festival community. Do keep an eye out for skinny ponytails and suspicious literature tucked under their arms. Where to find them: At their food stand on the Village Green, and waiting to chat to lonely commuters. How to approach: For spiritual advice, just walk up to one and nod. For really good food, approach their stand on the Village Green as often as possible; their chickpea fudge is a winner.
Usually travel to Grahamstown from faraway metropolises like Johannesburg and Cape Town. They dress sensibly and dont draw much attention to themselves. Until they get to the beer tent with mates, then their lost university student soul rekindles. Where to find them: Beer tent, and sensible shows like the ballet and jazz performances. How to approach: A pleasant nod in their general direction will do.
Faces smeared with white paint and empty containers at their feet, these amateur buskers try their hardest to entertain all and sundry. Where to find them: At two-meter intervals on any street. How to approach: With small-change and a smile.
They always wear sensible clothing and good walking shoes. Often grumbling about the sudden lack of parking and influx of unfamiliar faces. Where to find them: Where they want to be. The only species that never gets lost at Fest. After years of practice they always pick the best shows and stalls to spend their money. How to approach: Theyre good to make friends with as they know the town like locals should.
All of these species live in a symbiotic relationship in the Grahamstown habitat. Each relies on another to create as memorable an Arts Festival as possible. So go meander in the potjie pot of culture and break out of your usual species bracket.