Tents are up, booze stocked … now it’s time to party

2014-07-04 00:00

THE lawns at the Greyville racecourse have been trimmed and the racetrack has been raked to a pristine form, all for the Durban July tomorrow.

But give just a few short steps, and be met by scenes of controlled chaos. There’s the sea of cream-coloured marquee tents of varying sizes, with a huge red see-through tent with red interior.

Whispers around the course speculate that “the political guys are going to be there”.

What is confirmed though, is that this red tent is the biggest of all the marquees set up.

Yesterday, catering staff and suppliers were seen bustling about, setting up tables, folding napkins and unpacking crockery and cutlery.

Edwina Brown from Events World said the biggest marquee will host 1 000 people, and boasts 22 lounge areas. “There are 35 marquees at the event, with rental prices ranging from R5 000 for a spot on the picnic site, to the biggest marquee which cost about R300 000, excluding decor, catering and entertainment.”

A total of 35 marquees have been set up, but entry is by invitation only.

The event has been running since 1897 at the Greyville Racecourse.

According to Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN), the Vodacom Durban July is expected to attract some 63 000 visitors. Organisers expect the region will benefit by R425 million, including the bets on the race.

One of the biggest crowds are however expected at the GagasiFM site. Khelukani Shandu, spokesperson for the radio station, said the stage has been set for their line-up of musicians, and the demarcated area in front of the stage can accommodate 6 000 people. The Boom Town line-up will include Black Coffee, AKA & Da Les, Khuli Chana, Zakes Bantwini, Mi Casa, Dreamteam, Reason, DJ Clock and Uhuru.

For the last five years the event has been full to capacity.

Over 200 mobile toilets will be dotted around “tent town”, and 325 security guards will be allocated to the various tents to make sure no uninvited guests manage to sneak in.

These VIP tents have become a ­major attraction over the years, growing bigger and better with companies using it as an ideal way to entertain clients, or for networking purposes.

In the last two years visitors from Gauteng have made up more than 50% of the crowd at Greyville racecourse, according to a statement released by Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN).

Guests attending will include actress Terry Pheto, celebrity couple Sonia and Mathew Booth, and Mammpho Brescia, well-known as Iris from the hit soapie Isibaya.

Guy Allen from Artisan, a company offering bar services at events, said he would be supplying the liquor for three VIP tents. “The tents will host 1 400 per guest; and the cost of alcohol brought in just for the clients amount to about R300 000,” he said.

According to TKZN, every visitor from outside the province on average spends R5 296 on travel, accommodation and entertainment.

Andrew Layman,CEO of the Durban Chamber of Commerce, said the Vodacom Durban July has become more than just a premier horse race.

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