Food fest venue poses a conundrum

Confusion reigns
Irene Van Der Walt
Swakopmund • [email protected]

The organiser of the Nedbank Swakop Food Fest, Dalene Stephanus, says that she is hitting a brick wall with regard to the location of the event.

This comes hours before the actual starting of the festival that was initially scheduled for Thursday 16 December to Saturday 16 December.

The squabbling has shrouded the event in a cloud of uncertainty.

Nedbank Namibia's head of marketing, Gernot de Klerk gave the assurance that all stakeholders are engaged to work out the related logistical arrangements for the Swakop Food Festival.

"The ideal venue for us at the amphitheatre does present some further consideration from a public parking convenience perspective, as there is a concurrence of other high-profile events in the same vicinity. We are engaged in consistent discussions with all stakeholders to find a solution to these considerations, and while there may be a delay to the start of the Food Festival, we are all in agreement that the Swakop Food Festival is an important platform to showcase entrepreneurial excellence."

According to Stephanus, she initially applied to have the piece of land known as the Strand Street parking area, where her festival made its name. This request was denied due to the land being occupied by another party for the duration of the festive season.

It was then suggested that the festival be moved to the Vineta Sport Stadium.

The municipality then came back and advised Stephanus that she could occupy the amphitheatre walkway which is a couple of meters away from the original location she applied for.

Upon arrival at the location, Stephanus and vendors looking to make an earning at the festival, where however shunned by owners of businesses close by who claimed that the Nedbank Swakop Food Fest would interfere with their parking arrangements.

Stefanus says that she request council to avail the amphitheater as a venue ties in with the spirt of the event. She pleaded with the municipality for the amphitheatre location who informed her that parking space was a real issue due to a number of other events also taking place in the vicinity.

A day before the Nedbank Swakop Food Fest was to start sizzling, Stephanus’s plans for the occasion went haywire. The Swakopmund municipality apparently decided to deny her the use of the amphitheatre walkway.

A businessowner in the area said that aside from the noise, the Nedbank Food Festival is not a noticeable hinderance. “We close early so apart from the few customers we lose; it is actually nice to have a festival. I quite like it because they make an effort and they always clean up and make sure to leave no rubbish behind. I think it’s quite well organized.” This person added that some of the neighbouring businesses which are open late at night, may have adverse feelings toward the Nedbank Swakop Food Fest.

Swakopmund municipal councillor, Wilfried Groenewald advised Erongo to contact the acting CEO of the municipality Vilho Kaulinge for clarity. Kaulinge said that the council resolution taken on the issue earlier in the day was available for scrutiny and a copy of it could be obtained from his office the next day. “The festival will go ahead but from 28 to 30 December.”