The sounds of drum kits being tested and electric guitars being strummed floated down the hill during soundchecks as the sun set last night, the night before Oppikoppi began.

Festivalgoers, tired from their long journeys into the dry, dusty wilderness of the mining town of Northam in Limpopo, uncoiled themselves from their car seats.

They came to life after their festival bands were tied around their wrists and random shouts of “Oppi!” rang in the air.

This will become the uniting call of Oppikoppi revellers as the three days of dust, drinking and music continues.
Tents began popping up early in the day as the eager made sure to arrive early to pick the best spots – near the showers, but not too close to the toilets.

As temperatures began to drop yesterday, sun hats were swopped for beanies as campers made sure to settle in before darkness fell.

One person who is excited about Oppikoppi but wasn’t attending the festival was the owner of the local liquor store.
Robbie Fernandes, the manager of Liquor City in Northam, said the festival was one of his most lucrative times of the year.

“I order a bit more stock because there are a lot of new faces in town,’ he said. Fernandes has been running the store for three years.

“I won’t say it’s my busiest weekend, but yeah, it’s certainly one of my busiest. I make sure there are more promoters so we have a lot more promotions running for certain brands.

“The shopfront shelves were stacked with bottles of vodka, and travellers popped in and out with a bottle or six.”
Fernandes added that although beer sales were the highest during the festival, as Oppikoppi came to an end, another drink became more popular.

“When people are leaving, they’re buying a lot of Red Bull and other energy drinks,” he said, laughing.
Fernandes said the festival boosted the small town’s economy. “Oppikoppi is very good for the town. It’s something different from what happens in any other part of the country. I hope it keeps growing.”

As darkness fell, all that could be seen were the newly lit bonfires; all that could be heard were voices in the distance and a cacophony of drums.

– The Star

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