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Open Features: Baboons Among The Beads

Jacqueline Dowling tells of unexpected guests at the craft fair.

Craft Fair 2012 was a huge success they said. Everyone who visited it over the two days
agreed. So it must have been (a success).
But for those of us involved in the gestation of this, to date, unique happening in our neck of
the woods, it presented interesting challenges. First off was the possibility of a Cape winter
gale complete with hail, sleet, rain and whatever icy wrath the Antarctic hurled our way.

'No problem,' we said, 'we'll hold it in the nature reserve and hope for a sunny week-end.' So
we did.We held our collective breath, crossed fingers and didn't watch the weather forecasts
or even mention the possibility of anything but warm sunshine, birdsong and spring buds.

And that's exactly how it turned out. Brilliant days, early budding fynbos, carpets of daisies
as far as the eye could see: a backdrop of newly green and majestic mountains, with waterfalls
flowing into streams into rivers into the sea. Crafts firmly under cover in picturesque stone
huts, picnic tables under the trees; an army of teapot-brandishing helpers in aprons. And
platters piled high with wicked things to eat.
Stalls gleamed with beaded lizards and birds, their colours jewel-like, rich; fruit bowls
woven from wire and beads, strips of bright plastic and highly coloured electrical casings,
each one unique in pattern and execution and cascades of woven cloth, printed fabric the
whole rainbow effect captured in prisms of light from dancing crystals hanging in the trees.

The crafters were happy. They sold much of what was on display and everyone had a great
experience in beautiful surroundings. All, that is, except the helpers in aprons who fell prey
to the local baboon troop.

Grey furry bodies bundled into the kitchen, shrieking with excitement in anticipation of a
fabulous free feast. And they managed perfectly. Several sandwich platters disappeared up
the valley, whole cakes grew legs and followed suit. Tea tables experienced a flurry of hastily
filled mouths; stall-holders were left speechless and the hot-dog vendor stripped of all edible
assets.

Just as suddenly, it was over. Peace reigned, refreshments replenished and service resumed.

Craft sales continued. Business as usual.

It was a huge success. Everyone said it was. So it must have been.

Then why, I ask myself, am I not in a similar frenzy of pre- Craft Fair 2012 nerves this year?

Probably, and only because of the uncertain weather conditions , Craft Fair 2013 will be held
in a large auditorium, complete with doors, windows and no trees!

Jacqueline Dowling


* Fynbos indigenous coastal shrubs

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