For six days the town transforms into a social hub amid market stalls, theatre productions, dance, music, cabaret and visual arts.
While predominately an Afrikaans festival, organisers have over the years attempted to create an all-inclusive programme that caters to a larger group, independent of language. With preconceptions established in past years, this attempt is still only a future prospect, but by word of mouth Aardklop continues to grow on an annual basis. It is the largest and most anticipated festival in Potchefstroom and has just relocated to bigger grounds.
Drawing crowds of more than 150 000 people over the full-week duration, unfortunately due to the new structure and the increase in ticket prices (full day pass to craft market and concerts), a lot of festival-goers, many of whom would come merely for the “stalletjies” were deterred from attending as it meant having to fork out R120.
On a more positive note, shows run simultaneously throughout the day at various locales. Since these are not held on the main festival terrain, they allow for individual interests to be met outside of the dusty grounds.
The festival guide provided a solid overview of the shows, but due to the myriad of offerings, it’s impossible to see all that may be of interest in a single week.
Several of the shows have appeared at other art festivals, though the balance between new and known productions is on par. The works of Saartjie Botha, Wessel Pretorius, Ludwig Binge, Hennie van Greunen, Frans Swart, Deon Opperman, Gideon Lombard, Sandra Prinsloo, Chris Vorster, Lizz Meiring were all present. With a development principle at its core, Aardklop also offers unknown performers the opportunity to make their debut and showcase their works.
Together with theatre, Aardklop has a strong music component. Local musicians graced several stages throughout the festival, as guest’s picnicked on the grass. Chris Chameleon, Claire Johnston, Riders from the Storm, Emo Adams, Magdalene Minnaar (previously seen in Pieter Toerien’s Phantom Of The Opera) and Albert Frost were just a few of the performers.
Kids running around, sword fighting with glow sticks, the festival is a fun filled family outing. Unlike other full day music festivals, Aardklop explores the true meaning of the word “art” or more appropriately “postmodernism”. It puts money behind and creates an appreciation for the arts, that, though on the rise, is still significantly lacking in South Africa.