As an attendee of Montagu, nee South Africa’s first ever herb festival, you surely felt the awakening happening. The weekend of the 18th of October will now forever be cemented in village history. It was the synergy of expert talks on medicinal plants, hikes to showcase this town’s rich herbal cornucopia, music and grounding sessions through creativity.
Whilst writing this article, compliments are still streaming in, suggestions to improve are still being dissected and the clean-up operation is still in full swing.
The evening of the 18th the fest was kicked off with a three course herb inspired dinner at the Montagu Museum, attended by the who’s who of museum services, locals, our esteemed speakers and the museum staff. The lively sounds of djembe drums filled the air, calling all guests and piquing the interest of passers-by. An exquisite spread was laid out by Monique Du Plessis, and the hums of approval nearly drowned out the Khoi sounds playing in the background.
Saturday morning stall owners started setting up early as the festival was held between Montagu Museum and Joubert house. Talks ran from as early as 9:00, with Dr Deoni Van Rensburg ‘s cooking with herbs demonstration attracting foodies at Joubert House and Dr Yvette van Wijk making her audience gasp through her factual talk on how the first people transplanted medicinal plants to make them more accessible to the whole tribe.
The day was plagued for a while by heavy winds which affected trade, but like a true South African braaier, the show continued. At 4:30 locals and tourist alike, dusted off their dancing shoes, and supported our local talent at the Montagu Nature Garden. The RAD Foundation performers looking super handsome in shirts Helen Gooderson had specially made in Johannesburg, Handré Meyer aka Viv Rivers, the David Bain and Grant Negus duo, filling the charged air with dream-like sounds and nostalgia. Jason Muller aka Dj Longi supported the artists between breaks and a few couples were shuffling around on groovy jazz notes.
The laid back Sunday programme included one more hike to Donkerkloof, and ended with a hands- on smudge stick workshop, where fresh herbs were bundled in the most creative way. In many a Montagu household, and elsewhere, these bundles are now drying, ready to be burned, allowing new energy to fill the spirit and the home.
Yes, as with every first attempt there are areas that needs reconsidering. The overall feel and feedback from many is that this is a festival worth pursuing, and so herby-vores, Montagu Museum together with our amazing sponsors and partners are declaring our herbaceous borders open annually. It was a ground-breaking experience! History was made and it all began with the healing powers of nature.
Written by Anneline Mohammedt
See a photo gallery of the Herb Festival here: