As a 15-year resident of Hermanus, and still considered by some as an inkommer, I feel that I have at least earned the right to have my say about the Whale Festival.
Although I have not attended each and every one since I moved here, I have made a point of attending every second or third year. In this time, I have seen the festival decline from thousands of people cramming into the CBD to ride the (in)famous red ‘drop tower’ or watch a Nataniel cooking demo on the barren piece of land that is now the Checkers centre to a mediocre mishmash of stalls, adding neither amusement to festivalgoers nor value to our economy.
It is my opinion that the Whale Festival needs to be reimagined. It needs new blood to take it into the new decade. We do not need huge national sponsors to be able to host a world-class festival. We do not need food stalls from across the mountain to showcase our local culinary delights. And for goodness sake we do not need plastic stuff (read crap) imported from China to be sold to highlight the plight of our oceans drowning in plastic!
The Whale Festival, despite what the organisers seem to think, belongs to the residents of Hermanus. We need to have a say in what the Whale Festival should be. I attended a poorly supported ‘information evening’ about the festival where we were fed all the PR fluff reserved for tourists. We need a well-publicised meeting that is represented by all relevant role players where new committee members can be elected and who will organise a festival we can once again be proud of.
It cannot be so difficult, can it?