GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - Plettenberg Bay is about to once again be all the rage among thousands of young South Africans as the town hosts the 20th Plett Rage student festival from Friday.
Between 5 000 and 6 000 school leavers are expected to descend on Plett to celebrate their newfound freedom during the festival which runs from 29 November to 6 December.
Plett Rage is South Africa's oldest student festival and not only provides the opportunity for students to let their hair down but also boosts the local economy with about R50-million each year.
For the third year, the festival is being hosted at the outdoor festival grounds dubbed CoCo Valley just outside the town. This is where students gather for evening entertainment while daytime activities take place at Bikini Beach, just off the town's Central Beach.
'Biggest beach bar'
Festival founder Ronen Klugman said revellers are in for a treat as they had paid special attention to the stage and venue design this year. One of the newest features is a swimming pool built at Bikini Beach. Reportedly this venue will also have the biggest beach bar in South Africa. "We have about 20 top set-builders working on stages and other features," Klugman said.
These stages will see some of the biggest names in the SA music industry including Das Kapital, PH Fat, Nasty C, Desmond and the Tutus, Shortstraw, Spoegwolf, Francois van Coke, The Kiffness, Jeremy Loops, Die Heuwels Fantasties, Goodluck and Jack Parow. There will also be a variety of top DJs to ensure the party never stops.
Klugman said they also spend countless hours working with various role players to ensure the safety of the young festinos.
"Although it is a commercial event, it has been overwhelming how many people are willing to step in and volunteer their time and effort to ensure the safety of the students."
Among these volunteers are the Shepherds who assist youngsters beyond the festival grounds, including ensuring that they get home in one piece. Klugman said these volunteers did about 6 000 "lifts" last year.
One of the safety features of the festival is its massive transport system. Klugman said to avoid drinking and driving, transport is provided between central pick-up and drop-off points and the festival grounds for the evening entertainment. No private vehicles will be allowed at the venue.
This service is free. During the day there will be shuttles, at specified rates, for students to get around. "This is our biggest investment. We've spent R1,2-million on ensuring a good transport system. We however do it with a smile as we want to make the event as safe as possible."
Another feature of the festival is its cashless nature. Each student will receive an armband on which they can load money and pay for food, drinks and other items.
"Attached to each armband is the student's profile. Should a student get into difficulty, this band can be scanned, which will bring up the youngster's information."
Keeping thousands of students safe over the festival period is a mammoth task and therefore a detailed safety plan has been put in place, involving the cooperation between police, local law enforcement, local and provincial traffic departments, private security companies, the Plettenberg Bay Crime Prevention Association (PBCPA), local neighbourhood watch groups and volunteers.
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