The Republic of Mieliepop 2018 took place from 21 to 24 March, hosted in the luscious green fields of Tolderia resort in Lothair, Mpumalanga. Although the sunshine was hidden behind a shield of rain clouds, the show did indeed go on.

Wednesday 21 March saw festival goers flocking to camping grounds. Tents went up, and a few impressive rafts were constructed. Through the food village, a wide variety of stalls lined up along the lake shore. Sundown saw party rockers flock to the main bar for a DJ show down, with beer on tap from one of the local breweries, Red Rock Breweries. The night faded away as rain began to fall, and people danced without a care.

On Thursday, the sun did not rise to meet local citizens of the Republic. Instead rain and a chill hung over tents, yet little changed. Raincoats were adorned, but music was playing, and the air smelled still of joy and festivity. Citizens lined up at the various stations in the food village to grab a bite, before curing their hangovers at the Cool in the Pool dance floor, regardless of the absence of bikini weather. At the same time, other citizens took a more humorous start to their days, by attending the daily comedy show hosted at the bar stage. The comedians, organised by Werner Cloete were a favourite of many, and resulted in large amounts of laughter in the air.

Soon it was time for the main stage to come alive, as Strait Jackal took to the stage, breathing air into the lungs of those left sleeping and waiting. Followed by the sounds of Go Barefoot, and Deon Bakkes & The Stolen Horses, soon the Republic of Mieliepop was alive and screaming, as even more citizens arrived and settled the grounds. The night continued to boom at the Rave Cave, while others danced away at the Willow Stage, careless about the cold and mud forming on the grounds.

Friday morning, sadly saw a change in mood and weather. With the rain not letting up and the grounds broken up into strips of mud, the generally happy vibe had been dampened. However, the citizens of Mieliepop never say die. The early morning saw people rising from their tents, with quick fixes such as plastic bag socks, or breaking out gumboots, ready to face the day and amped to see DZ Death Rays. Some even gave in, choosing to leave all their footwear in their tents, opting to embrace the mud with a smile. Spirits were maintained by breakfast pitas, beer and good music at Cool in the Pool, which happened to host a rather warm pool that no one swam in.

Sadly, while the show did go on, some fans were disappointed when some headlining acts could not perform. The Native Young and Femi Koya could unfortunately not perform, as the condition of the roads resulted in them being trapped in mud, missing their slots. Fortunately, some took advantage of the opening. A brave and lovely young man took the opportunity to propose to his girlfriend at the main stage in front of the fans awaiting a show. It was beautiful, it was heartwarming, and she did indeed say yes.

With love in the air, some even saw it fit to share it, in a portable toilet of all places. A quick fix to the setlist problem was created, when the local favourite bare-knuckle duo Hellcats took to main stage to play a fantastic impromptu set. The duo fired up the crowd with two new songs that have not yet been released, saving the night. They were followed by The Moths, who poured fuel on the fire, attracting cold fans, like moths to a flame. It was now time for the headlining international act DZ Death Rays to rock the soggy socks of the citizens, turning around the cold misery for good. The night sky, stars and moon were now visible as the rain had stopped and the clouds had broken. Saturday was going to be great.

Saturday saw fans greeted with warm sunshine, and instantly the last few dampened spirits were lifted. Impressive barges were launched into the lake, smiles were brighter and the festival approached it’s closing high note.

The Republic of Mieliepop 2018 had its lows, but it delivered an unforgettable time. Many citizens found it awesome, and loved every day. Regardless of the weather, many saw the Cool in the Pool as their favourite and praised the music allround. As per usual, the artists had just as much fun as the local citizens, with comedian Werner Cloete saying “it was wet, great, still lekker and been awesome, looking forward to next year.”

Photo: Carly Twaddle

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