The annual Aardklop National Arts Festival kicked off on Monday the 30th of September with a concert featuring some well known Afrikaans artists such as Riana Nel, Kurt Darren, Theuns Jordaan and Snotkop amongst others. During the week, festival goers were treated to a variety of themed music evening line ups featuring well known local and international artists. The diverse music program catered for a wide range of musical tastes, such as a rock show titled “The Riders of Storm” held on Wednesday night which catered for rock lovers. On Thursday evening, English rock band Smokie known for the hit “Where is Alice” performed to the biggest audience of the week.
In the past, Aardklop was held at Cachet Park on the Bult but the available space was too little as Aardklop grew. Aardklop announced plans to move the venue and rumors quickly spread that Aardklop would be moving to Pretoria but this rumor was reputed when Aardklop announced that it would be moving to the Joolplaas on the Fanie du Toit sport stadium of the North West University. A deal was made between the management of Aardklop and the North West University to upgrade and further develop the Joolplaas and the surrounding areas which will be beneficial to both parties.
The new venue bought a completely different ground plan which grouped tents together and made it much easier to move around the venue. The extra space at the venue made a huge difference as you did not have to walk elbow to elbow which was the norm at the previous venue. Many people commented on the fact that the extra space killed the festival vibe that Aardklop was known for.
With regards to infrastructure, the new venue made it easier for the management of Aardklop to manage the security and logistics of the event. At the old venue, numerous roads had to be closed which significantly increased traffic congestion on the Bult, however no roads had to be closed with the new venue. I also appreciated the fact that Vodacom, one of Aardklop’s sponsors put up 2 temporary signal towers to help with network congestion as signal tends to be dismal at large events.
The new layout made it easy to walk from tent to tent and to visit all the stalls, something which was not easy to do with the old venue. Aardklop is an arts festival but very often binge drinking overshadows anything else, but with the new venue, the beer tents were placed near the stage and created a festival like atmosphere rather than a drinking atmosphere. The tents containing art work were placed in the center of the tents and made it easy for people to walk through.
The sticking point of Aardklop is the fact that vast amounts of people have complained that the entrance fee is too expensive. The management of Aardklop will quickly point out that the entrance fee includes both entrance to the grounds as well as to the daily music evening program. People have questioned why they should pay for the music program if they do not want to see it. A typical small family will have to fork out over R300 in entrance fees and then still have to pay for food and rides which can be an extremely costly proposition. Stall holders have also complained that the number of feet is less than previous years and that there are too many stall holders selling the same things. Aardklop suffers from a common festival problem in which many stall holders sell the same thing, this has 2 disadvantages: people get tired of seeing the same things and income is distributed across too many stalls.
In 2012, Aardklop sold a total 132 247 tickets for the week which comprised of 88 361 tickets to the grounds and 43 616 tickets for shows. By Wednesday evening, 2 days in to the event, Aardklop had sold more tickets than in 2012 combined.
In the past, numerous small shows were held around the Bult area, however with the new venue 2 stages were put up. The main stage hosted the daily evening entertainment programs while the other stage hosted entertainment that went into the early hours of the morning once the program of the main stage was completed. The great entertainment was complimented by good sound, lighting and video projection.
People complained about the long distances they had to walk to the Aardklop grounds. Aardklop did have a shuttle service which people could use to get to venues around Potchefstroom, however very few people knew about the service. I think in the future the shuttle service should be better advertised and that the shuttle service continuously rides around the Bult area ferrying people from their cars to the grounds.
Roundup of the positives / negatives of Aardklop:
• Lots of space
• Great entertainment
• Good ground layout
• Shuttle service to venues around Potchefstroom
• Entrance is too expensive
• Lack of toilets
• No festival vibe
Check out the photo galleries of the evening music programs.