Today, Splashy Fen prides itself on offering festival-goers a total entertainment ‘package’ that goes beyond great live music performances to include a wide choice of outdoor leisure and adventure activities for the whole family, as well as a multitude of different food and drinks outlets, colourful craft stalls and a children’s entertainment marquee and crèche. Also on offer are much-improved camping facilities, a separate family campsite and even a tent hotel.
Ferraz is quick to point out, however, that although efforts are continuously made to introduce fresh ideas, the basic formula of providing a therapeutic break from the real world coupled with top-quality entertainment, remains the same.
“Nobody can ever say that Splashy Fen is the same old thing year after year. On the contrary, we are always on the look-out for new ways to enhance the festival but never at the risk of losing the special ambience that is unique to Splashy and sets us apart from other festivals.”
Lessons learned and expertise gained over the years means that attendees can expect only the very best in terms of production and event management, which is now slicker and more professional than ever before.
Infrastructure has also been built up to support the growing festival. This includes Eskom power and stand-by generators, public telephones, permanent and temporary ablution facilities and a marquee ‘village’ to accommodate the different stages, bar areas, security and medical services. Tons of sound, stage and lighting equipment is assembled each year to ensure that the quality of the sound matches the quality of the music.
The most recent development is the widening and re-grading of the festival access road in 2008, which will do much to avoid bottlenecks in the event of heavy rains.
In terms of numbers, attendance has grown to a point where Splashy Fen now attracts in the region of 10 000 people annually from all corners of the country and abroad.
With its family-friendly ethos, the festival appeals to people of all ages. In fact, research conducted by Tourism KwaZulu-Natal in 2010 revealed that 10% of attendees were under 20 years of age, while 56% were aged 21-30, and 34% were over 30. Another interesting point is that 34% of attendees had not been to Splashy previously, which is a good indicator of continued longevity. The majority of attendees also stayed for the full four nights of the festival.
But what of the impact on the environment? Well, according to Ferraz, most festival-goers spend their time on previously cultivated fields which can again be put under the plough for agriculture. As for the wilder areas, the number of people present over the Splashy weekend probably has less impact than a herd of cattle over several months!
Splashy Fen has also adopted a ‘no glass’ policy. While glass may be more ‘green’ than plastic (which is easily cleared up after the event), broken bottles and the like are not only an immediate danger to festival-goers but also a long-term hazard to the livestock whose grazing pastures are being ‘borrowed’ for the festival weekend.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that, as the festival has grown, so too have the donations made to charitable organisations. Each year, the festival’s beer garden/bar area is operated by the Sani 152 Round Table and all profits are donated to deserving causes and community upliftment projects.
Other spin-offs include the festival’s ongoing contribution to economic growth in the local community and province through job creation, business opportunities and increased tourism.