Working together to make the Nautical Festival 2017 a success

Nautical FestinalDespite of the awful, cold windy weather late last Wednesday evening a surprisingly large group of interested locals gathered at the Balobi Seafood Market & Deli to listen to Janet Harrison give some feedback on this year’s Nautical Festival and her thoughts on planning for the  Nautical Festival 2017. Some discussion on the date for next year’s festival points to the ideal period for the festival being held over the long weekend incorporating both Freedom and Workers Day which truly could be most beneficial to virtually every business, particularly the hospitality purveyors, in the greater St Francis region.

Herein lies the importance of planning for the Nautical Festival 2017 and what it could mean to the St Francis, particularly as it precedes winter when business traditionally slows down. Several towns in our close proximity hold extremely well supported festivals attracting not only exceptional visitor support but also the financial support of some of South Africa’s largest companies. The Knysna Oyster Festival has Pick ‘n Pay as it headline sponsor, The Kirkwood Wildefees has SPAR, Grahamstown’s Art Festival enjoys the support of Standard Bank and the Oudtshoorn KKNK is well supported by Oudtshoorn & De Rust Tourism.

Certainly to attract major sponsorship for a festival requires huge effort in growing a festival that attracts large crowds giving the sponsor a return on investment. Thus the goal here must be for the St Francis Nautical Festival 2017 to create an event that rivals our nearby competitors. St Francis has an a huge advantage in not only is the festival held in the perfect window of the public holidays at the end of April beginning of May but St Francis has more to offer than any of the aforementioned towns providing we tap into all we have to offer. With regard to the ‘window’, with Freedom and Workers days falling just three days apart it offers an extended long weekend that with the right mix of events could attract not only visitors from the Eastern Cape but also from Cape Town, the Free State and even KZN and Gauteng but it will require every business in St Francis to work together towards a common goal to achieve the biggest and most popular event on the Southern coastline.

Speaking to several locals it appears that some feel the Nautical Festival is a Port St Francis event and has little to do with St Francis Bay or Cape St Francis but it is this belief is what needs to change. The Nautical Festival has to become a St Francis event incorporating every aspect of what the entire region has to offer, not just the Port. Every one of the sporting codes from paddling to golf, swimming to squash has to climb aboard with an event tailored to support the nautical theme. Restaurants need to work together to ensure they don’t compete with each other but for this one weekend actually support each other and guesthouses and bed & breakfasts need to look at offering rates that entice visitors to stay longer so as to enjoy all that our region has to offer.

Janet is inviting anyone interested in joining the Nautical Festival committee to give her a call and a further meeting is planned where hopefully every business owner and sport committee and indeed the public at large will attend. St Francis Today will keep readers up informed as to the date of this meeting which we hope will need a bigger venue than the Seafood Market and Deli at the Port. The Nautical Festival could become the biggest event on the Cape coastline and certainly could attract a major sponsor but the whole region has to work together in making the Nautical Festival 2017 event the biggest and best yet thus attracting that major national sponsor it deserves for future events.

Janet can be reached on 042 294 0162 or by email