Elmswood is a beautiful farm situated just outside Nelsparta, known for its beautiful wood furniture workshop and venue, this was the setting for the 1st Lowveld Oktoberfest. From the same organizers as The Avo Fest and The Gin Fest from earlier the year, we made our way to Elmswood on Friday 11 October 2019.
Since I’m still on crutches (but out of the moon boot) I look now how accessible venues and festivals are to disable or immobile persons. We parked at the general parking and checking in was a breeze. We even received two glass beer mugs with compliments from the Lowveld Oktoberfest. When we entered the terrain we were met with beer stalls on our left and the stage and bar area on our right.
Of course, we had to do a few beer tastings and we started with Darling Brewery. They also produce their own crisps now made from the grain used in their beer. Their Ruby Dragonfly was delicious but very sweet. Sabie Brewing Company was next and they are well known and loved the brand in the Lowveld. Featuring their regulars like Glynn’s Gold Lager and Shangaan Stout they had a new feature “Rooinek”. A mix of berries and their unique craft, a sweet soft red blend hits your taste buds. A must try at the brewery on your next road trip. Our last tasting was Legend Brewery from Silverton, Pretoria. They had such unique brews like a Milktart Stout, a Chuck Norris brew with 9% alcohol, very strong. Their craft Gin Ice Tea was the hit of the weekend and many people enjoyed this brew. Other brewers were Jack Black, Carlsberg and Durban Poison beer (a hemp beer).
The food court was filled with different choices from Mexican to Milky Lane soft serve to biltong. One food stall that stood out in taste was the Smoking Barrel with their small range of good food. From slow-cooked brisket to burgers. The Dop and Tjop butchery not only took care of the VIPs but also sold amazing tasting biltong and chilli biltong. A must try!
But we weren’t there just for the food and the beer, we were there for the music and the friends as well. Since our raining season started, we had a serious day of rain earlier in the week. This made Friday night slightly chilly. The turnout for the evening wasn’t as big but bigger than expected from the festival team. On the line-up was locals Long John and Coenie Naude, ending the night off with PE born rapper, Early B. The Oompa Band brought the German atmosphere because an Oktoberfest is not an Oktoberfest without Oompa band.
I was told to watch Coenie and I’m always keen to hear the new talent that comes out of the Lowveld woodwork. I’m humble to mention that this rocker enjoyed it. Coenie is a teacher by day and a singer/songwriter by night. He did do covers but he made it like his own. He later told me that he was still in his beginner shoes when it came to performing but I encourage him to do his own songs. Originality goes a long way! Famous songs didn’t get famous by being a cover, it was performed as originals first.
It’s not my first Early B show but it was my first time seeing Early solo. He usually performs with other artists like Jack Parow and Van Pletzen. Early is a humble guy from PE and is very friendly. I love this man’s humour. His sister travels with him and makes sure he is sorted on stage, off stage and more. Early’s show was simply unforgettable. The young crowd rapped most of the songs with. With hits like “Lekker D’jy”, “Potte” and “Ben 10” he had young and old dancing to his tunes. Where I applauded Early is when he was thrown with ice cubes out of the crowd. Early called the guy forward and he asked the guy if he thought throwing him with ice will cool him down. Well, the answer is simple, no and the crowd cheered Early when he asked if everyone was there for a lekker time. Of course, we are! So mister ice thrower learnt a big lesson and there were no more incidents. Well done Early B!
Saturday 12 Oktober was hot and sunny, a typical late Spring/early Summer day. The beer Olympics was taking place consisting of beer pong, speed boat and hold the jug to mention a few. This was fun seeing the different teams competing with each other.
We went back into the food court to find some snacks and I discovered a tattoo stall. Well, it’s airbrushed on you and way cheaper (and less painful) than an actual tattoo. I saw so many kids with their choices of tattoos. You see this Oktoberfest was kid-friendly and they had a huge play area on the terrain as well to play all their energy out. After getting some more biltong we sat down for the few minutes one can get during a festival as media. Tonight is going to be a good night!
The Oompa band did their amazing vibes followed Long John again. Coenie Naude was back up on stage. The winner of The Voice SA season 3, Tasche, was up next. Her couch is a well-known rocker, Francois van Coke and one could see it. Wearing a Fokof Lager t-shirt, she gave a rocking performance. She invited Hunter Kennedy (Die Heuwels Fantasties) on stage to perform “Skyn Heilig” with her and the band. The band is Die Gevaar, yes the Van Coke’s band.
Next up was Cape Town based band, Sunset Sweatshop. Their name has been on the lips of many festival-goers down South. This time it was the Lowveld’s turn to experience their vibe. I was having so much fun on their music I almost forgot I was there to take pictures as well. Their hit “Moving” was sung back by the crowd. Ian Heyns (vocals) does a fantastic job on stage and so does the rest of the guys. If you need to see a band, see Sunset Sweatshop. You won’t be disappointed. Your feet might just be slightly sore from all the dancing.
Die Heuwels Fantasties need no introductions really and they are old visitors to our humble region. Just a few short weeks ago they were in Badplaas for another festival. However, the crowd at Lowveld Oktoberfest was hungry for some Afrikaans pop-rock. With hits like “Beloofde land”, “Shangri-La”, “Klein Tambotie boom”, “Leja”, “Sy” and “Pille vir Kersfees” the band had the crowd singing, dancing and cheering from start to finish. Every time I hear the DHF perform it feels like home almost. I can go anywhere in the world and the minute I hear DHF will be back in the Lowveld in an instant.
The Lowveld Oktoberfest in all was a great event that took place in the Lowveld. The security was good and there weren’t any real problems. The bars were well stocked with a really wide range of products. The beer stalls, although very small, was interesting to speak to the brewmasters. The terrain wasn’t easy to master with crutches but that was expected. Any info I wanted from the festival organizers, they gave to me. I must thank them and Show Me Nelspruit for the amazing support as well. Show Me Nelspruit did all of their marketing and I think only the ants didn’t know about the Lowveld Oktoberfest.
I look forward to the next one and the next one…