If you peel back the layers, the SPAR Kirkwood Wildsfees in the beautiful citrus town is so much more than the food, fun and festivities that keep people coming back year after year.
It has become an institution in the community that not only brings people from all walks of life together but also allows entrepreneurs to showcase their products to those who value them most.
These and other attributes have seen SPAR Eastern Cape put its name to the event for well over a decade, as will again be the case this year.
The festival, running from June 30 to July 2, is turning 20 in 2023 while SPAR is marking its 30th year in the province, making for a double celebration.
SPAR EC advertising manager Roseann Shadrach said the family retailer was proud to be associated with it for such a long time.
It attracts people from all over the country, not just Gqeberha and surrounds,” she said.
“But perhaps its biggest strength is entrepreneurship, which is one of SPAR’s main pillars. The fact that we are enabling people to earn an income over that weekend is very special.”
It is particularly rewarding for the retailer since small businesses and stallholders have been hit hard by the pandemic and giving them a platform to showcase and sell their wares “ticked SPAR’s entrepreneurship box”.
Shadrach said the festival received tremendous support from “regular festivalgoers” and with an entertainment programme that featured a large Afrikaans component it was a highlight on the agricultural events calendar.
The incredible spirit for which the Wildsfees has become known is testament to how the Kirkwood community rally together. Without fail, everyone from the high-powered businessman to the youngster running the bokdrol-spoeg competition ensures that visitors come away with a memory to treasure.
The town itself was another significant selling point, added Shadrach.
“It’s like a little untouched piece of heaven that outsiders don’t really know about. That is part of its appeal.
“You wouldn’t necessarily take a drive out to Kirkwood, but the Wildsfees is the one time of the year when locals get to showcase the town in all its glory.
“It’s so beautiful, you are literally surrounded by citrus farms and the environment is just such a breath of fresh air.”
The Wildsfees marks the end of what has been an exceptionally busy autumn for SPAR in terms of sponsorships.
From the Nelson Mandela Bay Splash Festival and the Karoo Food Festival in Cradock to the upcoming Women’s Challenge in Gqeberha, the group has been giving people across the province every reason to smile as life slowly but surely returns to normal.