Preparing for Splashy

2017-04-05 06:03
One of the many gantries constructed to add atmosphere to the site.PHOTO: al nicoll

One of the many gantries constructed to add atmosphere to the site.PHOTO: al nicoll

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MANY of us simply arrive, scan our ticket and have fun.

We watch the music, use the ablutions, hide under the marquee, order a drink or decide on what food to eat.It’s a simple, wonderful experience at one of the country’s most well-known music festivals, but ensuring that we get to enjoy all of this requires months of planning, costs and efforts from a dedicated group of people who operate and co-ordinate the festival.

Let’s consider quickly what is required. You have a farm site in the middle of the Drakensberg with no power, a river 300 metres away, no infrastructure and around 300 head of cattle grazing on it.In five months, the site needs to be prepared to host 7 000 festival enthusiasts in a manner befitting their expectations.

Therein lies the work, and a fair amount of it for management company Impi Concept Events, which has been tasked with the mammoth task of not only staging this festival, but rejuvenating it to its former glory.

They are well-equipped though, having staged the Old Mutual Music at the Lake series at the Durban Botanic Gardens for the past five years, as well as several overseas shows, including acts such as UB40.

So the first concern of “who are these chaps” is clearly dealt with, so let’s get to the grit of staging a festival. Preparing a site for these kinds of numbers is no mean achievement, says Splashy Fen logistical director Andrew van Rensburg.

“The site itself is a working farm and we need to ensure that we maintain that respect for the environment and farm in all decisions we make.

“We aim to ensure that everything we do on site is done in a manner that impacts the environment as little as possible, and that two weeks after the event, the farm is back to normal,” said Van Rensburg.

The site itself is a beautiful venue, consisting of lovely fields that are perfect for camping, an upper flat section for the festival location and set-up, and a beautiful river in the valley below.All these elements need to be incorporated into a festival venue design that works.

“The design of the venue is vital. It is all about the flow of people and making sure that access around the site is not only easy, but makes sense and flows properly,” said Van Rensburg.

“This process takes us at least two to three months to finalise each year.

“Once we decide on a venue layout, it’s a matter of deciding the infrastructure needs around the farm.

“At Splashy Fen 2017, this includes over 10 000 square metres of tented coverage, 2,5 km of electrical cabling, 1,2 km of plumbing equipment, storage of over 40 000 litres of water, 210 portable ablutions, 45 temporary showers and clever arrangement of all of this to meet our clients’ needs.

“Clearly, a festival is not simply a matter of ordering a few tents, toilets and bands and rocking up a week before to set up. The set-up is one thing, operating the festival over the Easter weekend is another, says festival director Stu Berry.

“It is a challenge to host 7 000 people for four nights, but a really exciting and rewarding challenge. The logistical challenge of making a festival of this size operate properly is one that we take pride in, and one that we also use to ensure maximum development and economic opportunities to local businesses and service providers,” said Berry.

“Over Splashy Fen 2017, we will employ 125 security guards across 580 shifts, 15 qualified medics, two doctors, four firefighters, six mounted police, 10 undercover security agents, two sniffer dogs, 30 ablution janitors, 25 shower operators, 85 sound and technical crew and provide indirect work for at least another 200 locals through service providers.

“This all forms part of our N3TC Splashy Cares programme, which ensures maximum economic benefit to the community of Underberg and its businesses,” said Berry.Setting up on site starts about six weeks before the festival.Fences get erected, plumbing and electricity are installed, and roads are repaired.So when you attend Splashy Fen 2017, spare a “thank you” to the ablution janitor, a simple “hello” to the security guard or a welcoming hand shake to the shower attendant. They are all as much a part of Splashy Fen as the ticket holders are. - Supplied.


MANY of us simply arrive, scan our ticket and have fun.

We watch the music, use the ablutions, hide under the marquee, order a drink or decide on what food to eat.

It’s a simple, wonderful experience at one of the country’s most well-known music festivals, but ensuring that we get to enjoy all of this requires months of planning, costs and efforts from a dedicated group of people who operate and co-ordinate the festival.

Let’s consider quickly what is required. You have a farm site in the middle of the Drakensberg with no power, a river 300 metres away, no infrastructure and around 300 head of cattle grazing on it.

In five months, the site needs to be prepared to host 7 000 festival enthusiasts in a manner befitting their expectations.

Therein lies the work, and a fair amount of it for management company Impi Concept Events, which has been tasked with the mammoth task of not only staging this festival, but rejuvenating it to its former glory.

They are well-equipped though, having successfully staged the Old Mutual Music at the Lake series at the Durban Botanic Gardens for the past five years, as well as several overseas shows, including acts such as UB40.

So the first concern of “who are these chaps” is clearly dealt with — they are very competent and have a great event CV behind them.

If 2016 was anything to go by (the first year they co-ordinated Splashy Fen), then we can only dream about what they have in store for us in 2017. Enough semantics, let’s get to the grit of staging a festival. Preparing a site for these kinds of numbers is no mean achievement, says Splashy Fen logistical director Andrew van Rensburg.

“The site itself is a working farm and we need to ensure that we maintain that respect for the environment and farm in all decisions we make. We aim to ensure that everything we do on site is done in a manner that impacts the environment as little as possible, and that two weeks after the event, the farm is back to normal and ready to be grazed by the cattle that call Splashy Fen home,” said Van Rensburg.

The site itself is a beautiful venue, consisting of lovely fields that are perfect for camping, an upper flat section for the festival location and set-up, and a beautiful river in the valley below.

All these elements need to be incorporated into a festival venue design that works. “The design of the venue is vital. It is all about the flow of people and making sure that access around the site is not only easy, but makes sense and flows properly,” said Van Rensburg.

“This process takes us at least two to three months to finalise each year, ensuring that we learn from the issues raised by our clients the year before.

“Once we decide on a venue layout, it’s a matter of deciding the infrastructure needs around the farm.

“At Splashy Fen 2017, this includes over 10 000 square metres of tented coverage, 2,5 km of electrical cabling, 1,2 km of plumbing equipment, storage of over 40 000 litres of water, 210 portable ablutions, 45 temporary showers and clever arrangement of all of this to meet our clients’ needs.”

Clearly, a festival is not simply a matter of ordering a few tents, toilets and bands and rocking up a week before to set up. The set-up is one thing, operating the festival over the Easter weekend is another, says festival director Stu Berry.

“It is a challenge to host 7 000 people for four nights, but a really exciting and rewarding challenge. The logistical challenge of making a festival of this size operate properly is one that we take pride in, and one that we also use to ensure maximum development and economic opportunities to local businesses and service providers,” said Berry.

“Over Splashy Fen 2017, we will employ 125 security guards across 580 shifts, 15 qualified medics, two doctors, four firefighters, six mounted police, 10 undercover security agents, two sniffer dogs, 30 ablution janitors, 25 shower operators, 85 sound and technical crew and provide indirect work for at least another 200 locals through service providers. This all forms part of our N3TC Splashy Cares programme, which ensures maximum economic benefit to the community of Underberg and its businesses,” said Berry.

Setting up on site starts about six weeks before the festival. Fences get erected, plumbing and electricity are installed, and roads are repaired.

So when you attend Splashy Fen 2017, spare a “thank you” to the ablution janitor, a simple “hello” to the security guard or a welcoming hand shake to the shower attendant.

They are all as much a part of Splashy Fen as the ticket holders are; after all, it is SA’s friendliest festival! — Supplied.

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