Mardi Gras – food, fun and frolics

When Henley on Klip comes out to play, the village does so with gusto!

This was our family’s first Mardi Gras, so we had no comparisons to make, but the weary committee members, exhausted food vendors, depleted stall holders and tipsy revellers all seemed to consider the event a huge success.

Certainly, by midday it was almost impossible to wriggle through the queues at the food stalls and find a place to munch your boerie, pork roll, curry, bacon doughnut, kebab, cookie, cupcake or ice cream in peace.

The mounted parade

The Lions must have made a killing as you couldn’t get near the long counters for booze and beer all day. I gave up hoping for a bottle of water and begged charity from the Rotarians who supplied a much-needed glass. Others in the queue filled their glasses with lemons, ice, delicately coloured liquids and cocktail umbrellas.

For the children it was archery, the constant whirl of helicopter flips overhead, soccer in the blow-up ring, jumping castles and activities such as painting and sand art if anyone could sit still. With the sugary drinks, fudge, biscuits and sweets on sale, I don’t think many could! There were also any number of colourful hats, toys, squishies and other delights direct from China.

Mandy and Stoffel

Past the kids’ aisle, there were items to attract the discerning or those with an eye for beauty, from the Kliphouse collectives, to Art Haven’s decoupage and other items, to mosaics, watercolours, leather handbags, decorated cups and bowls, glass art, cosmetics, clothing and colourful throws.

The Henley NGOs turned out in style, advertising everything from Orchards Academy to Henley at Heart, from the CPF with their boeries, to the Lions and Balls an’ All with second-hand books and dog blankets.

The elegant Kliphouse stall of collectibles

Stoffel the hound was wearing a feather boa and there were others parading in masks, tinsel, hats and feathers in true Mardi Gras style. The festivities kicked off with a parade of children, horses, dogs and cars – I was a little disappointed, I thought all the hats would join in, but I suppose people were still a bit shy so early.

Then the cricketers took over. I’m afraid I have no idea who was playing, or who won, but they seemed to be having a good time.

Later on the dust flew, the heat grew, the casks sank and the noise level rose. Those lucky enough to bag a table were hanging on for dear life. Entertainers came and went, but, alas, it was mostly background to the hubbub. Solo singers predominated, with the OWLAG girls taking a turn on marimbas. Most of Henley I recognised were there, plus a lot I didn’t, possibly summoned by the radio adverts from neighbouring environs.

Traffic jams? Yes, there were a few. It helped that Hearn Road was turned into a one-way at peak time. An ambulance was seen to depart at one point. A hearing aid went missing, a driver lost his keys, but it all came right in the end. Generally full marks for the organisers; it was a well-run affair with plenty of necessities like loos, rubbish bags and banner tape.

I was impressed to find the entire committee had turned out on Sunday morning to tidy up and collect rubbish. There was a fair amount, but Fraser Park will be none the worse.

Another successful Mardi Gras. In 2017, an estimated 4 500 folk visited. Judging by the traffic, this year it was more. The Mardi Gras is a time for Henleyites to enjoy themselves, I was told. As long as everyone had a good time and the community organisations and stall holders made a bit of money, all’s well.

The Henley on Klip Mardi Gras is held every second year; so roll on 2021.