THE FIRST few days of the National Arts festival are always about orientating yourself. That is, if you are staying for more than just a few. If you are only in the town of saints and sinners for a short while, you have to dive right in, and the first port of call is your programme. Once you have thoroughly confused yourself with 296 pages, you take a wander around the streets and gawk at the posters, to be found on every flat surface, smooth or not.

By the end of the 13-day fest, the posters are several layers thick, and it is survival not of the fittest, but the production company with the ladder and the better glue.

The local kids have moved on from the days of shosholoza and gumboot dancing on the corner, and now seem firmly entranced by the idea of painting their faces and adopting a pose for money.

The stallholders are getting ready for the hordes that hopefully descend today, but it is not just the crafters on the Transnet Village Green Fair hoping to drum up custom. There are several hawkers who come to the Fiddlers Green hoping to attract the people from Grahamstown's township, bringing everyday items like boots and clothing to what is usually a cold space. The weather is holding, so people are out and about, but always with the idea that it will not last. It will get cold, and we will move inside.

• The National Arts Festival is on in Grahamstown until July 13. Check www.iol.co.za for our coverage.