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A weekend of family fun lined up for the 2015 Portuguese Mariners Food, Wine & Family Festival |

Foray into a festival of food, flowers and family fun (and free entry!) at the 2015 Portuguese Mariners Food, Wine & Family Festival being held at Fazenda’s Mac Banana’s, Munster, on 24 and 25 July starting at 9am.

This annual celebration, which attracts about 4 000 people a day, is held in commemoration of the passengers of Portuguese ship, Sao Joao, which was wrecked on rocks outside Port Edward in 1552. The ship was on a return journey from India when it got caught in the fatal storm, killing 126 passengers, including Princess Leonora de Sousa.

More than a decade ago, local ward councillor, Dave Watson, along with South Coast residents Jo Arkell and the late Darrel de Lange, decided to establish a festival celebrating the unique cultural heritage this shipwreck brought to the area.

“This shipwreck is the first recorded time Europeans landed in South Africa so it has amazing historial significance,” explained Watson. “The wreck is also important to the Portuguese nation, something that children learn about in school. The wreck sets up a direct link between the Portuguese and lower South Coast.”

The lives of both the survivors and shipwreck victims are celebrated throughout this two-day event, starting with appropriately-themed “Beach Shipwreck” opening dinner. Dinner guests are invited to wear whatever they were wearing “when the ship went down” so anything from ball gowns and tuxedos to pyjamas are welcome.

The traditional Portuguese central beer garden will be offering non-stop weekend entertainment with big screens showing all the top sporting fixtures in the evening, while top South African artists will keep visitors entertained throughout the day.

For those whose tastes flow towards the vineyards, top South African winemakers will be offering fabulous wine tastings at the Wishing Well centre court. And make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to tast some authentic Portuguese port at the boutique Sao Joao Indoor Bar.

Set under the scenic vine-entwined pathway is a feast of global delicacies to satisfy any palette including a variety of jams, cheese, olives, fresh produces and baked goods which will be available at MacBanana’s Food Emporium. For those looking for authentic Portuguese flavours, the Portuguese Bakery will offer delectable biscuits, cakes and breads while a variety of Portuguese dishes will be supplied by Fazendas Kitchen in the main dining area. Those visiting on Sunday can also get stuck into the extravagant Portuguese buffet, also available in the main dining hall.

Taking a stroll away from the food stalls, visitors will find an impressive array of handmade items at the Arts & Crafts Market held alongside the nursery and landscaped display gardens. Here, a diverse selection of fresh-cut flowers and potplants will be on sale at the Portuguese Fresh Flower Market. There are still limited stall openings available for vendors or crafters hoping to be part of the cultural festivities, so make sure you book your place now.

In the spirit of international competitiveness, the Portuguese will take on the “Boers” and “Souties” in the village folk games which will include hay bale tossing, chilli eating and even tug-of-war!

And for the little ones attending the weekend festival, there will be a full children’s programme with a range of exciting activities lined up. These include cupcake decoration competitions, tug-of-war, banana eating contests, carnival rides, stilt walkers, puppet shows and face painting. And to ensure parents have a relaxing experience, a professional toddler child-care service will be available allowing the children to have fun in the inflatable toddler ball pit, all under supervision.

At the Portuguese Mariners Food, Wine & Family Festival, there is something for everyone including a Butterfly Dome, adventure golf, horse riding, trampolines, a petting zoo, bass fishing, quad trails and banana farm educational tours, all at a separate cost.

Special guests to this year’s festival are the Rancho Folkloric Regiões de Portugal dancers as well as the Portugues Consul General who will also be attending the Mariner’s Mass at the Portuguese Festival Chapel on Sunday 26 July at 11.30am.

Visitors are invited to join the dignitiaries after mass as they visit the Sao Joao memorial site where a ceremonial wreath is lain in honour of those who lost their lives at sea.

Justin Mackrory, Chief Executive Officer of UGU Tourism South Coast, said the festival had great significance for the area.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to come together and enjoy the Portuguese culture and nuances, as well as the hospitality of the lower South Coast,” said Mackrory. “It is one of the anchor events for the area, rich in a history that goes back hundreds of years.”

Make sure you get to The Portuguese Mariners Food, Wine & Family Festival on 24 and 25 July to enjoy an action-packed weekend of family fun, with entrance free of charge. There will be a free park and ride available at Munster Airstrip.

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