There was a guy at our school, Gary, who was probably the most popular boy in our school at the time. He was captain of every sport team he played in. The teachers adored him, the girls even more so. He was so well known in the neighbourhood that at any party he went to, he would instantly be recognised. This was all good and well until some matric boys from a rival school recognised him and pummelled one Friday night, ensuring that he wouldn’t be able to take part in the following week’s rugby match. As it turns out, there is such a thing as being “too popular.” I remembered poor Gary and his broken nose while standing in what seemed to be an endless line at a recent wine festival.
Let’s go back a few years. In the first years of this Randburg-based wine show, there were enough patrons to create a buzz and festive atmosphere, but not so many that visitors would feel as if their weekend leisure activity was as stressful as peak-hour traffic. As it turns out, this once-pleasant oyster and wine show has become one that I may avoid in the future, unless I also want to end up with a broken nose.
We queued for hours to find a parking place and eventually had to park in another shopping centre; we had to wade through people to get a wine glass; waited for ages to buy oysters; and had to shove our way through crowds to taste wines. The whole point of food and wine shows is to be able to sample the wares at leisure, not have to fend off elbows to the face as frustrated patrons stampede their way to tasting stations.
I’m trying to work out whether or not exhibitors score out of over-full festivals. By sheer volume of numbers you’d think they would be able to sell more product but on the flipside, they’d also be giving out way more freebies as tasters. Also, people are more likely to buy goods if they are not being elbowed, shoved or have to fight for a tasting. Success at a food and wine show often depends on whether or not an exhibitor is able to extol the virtues of his or her brand to possible consumers.
Rather than head home with some brilliant wine, we left the festival empty handed and took solace in some old brown sherry in a dodgy pub. It’s not that I mind going to dodgy pubs. Generally, I fit right in. My relaxed attitude to shaving means that at any point I may be mistaken for a vagrant who’s saved up enough cash from some grog. It’s just that I seem to be approachable, and always land up stuck in conversation with drunk men who tell me how they could have had promising sporting careers if only they hadn’t broken bones before a crucial game in matric.