Craft markets are dime a dozen these days, unfortunately. Don’t get me wrong; I love them, but they’re pretty much all the same. It seems that every wine farm or somewhat historic part of Cape Town has its own weekend retail and foodie market, so I was a little sceptical when I first heard of ROOT44, out in Stellenbosch.
Situated on the Audacia Wine Farm, just across the road from the Thirsty Scarecrow on the R44, I was actually pleasantly surprised. Open from 10 am until 4 pm every Saturday and Sunday (rain or shine, according to the ROOT44 website, it quickly became clear that this is no ordinary craft market.
For starters, there is more than enough parking. Half a dozen car guards ushered us to a spot in a very ordered fashion, and while dusty and packed with cars, there was still plenty room for many more craft enthusiasts.
Secondly, the variety on offer simply blew my mind. From fudge to gourmet hamburgers to drinks and smoothies. Fancy a little curry for lunch? More of a fish and chips fan? No problem! Everyone is catered for, and everything is delicious! Not in the mood for a bite? Just browse the dedicated design and clothing sections.
ROOT44 is huge! But it doesn’t feel packed. I’ll often avoid a place simply due to the crowds, but with ample seating in several areas, this market just seemed different. There’s even a tree house bar! We opted for a shady spot at one of the tables near the live music stage, and munched on our assorted goodies while enjoying a lovely show by a somewhat chiselled man and his guitar.
Further investigation revealed yet another bar, perfectly situated right next to the kiddies ‘World of Adventure’. It’s almost as if the market’s designer actually thought ahead! Grab a beer or a glass of Audacia wine while the kiddies play on the jungle gym or try their hand at a few classic carnival games.
What’s more, ROOT44 is actually also one of the sites you can take part in a Parkrun in the Western Cape. Check out this link for more info, but in short, Parkruns take place every Saturday from 8 am. So go be healthy next weekend, and then go pig out on a pulled pork ciabatta roll, craft beer and homemade ice cream soon thereafter.
Don’t tell any of my friends or family, but ROOT44 has revitalised my love for craft markets, just with a single visit. I’ll definitely be back before the summer ends, but am confident I’ll probably also visit again during the winter months. I can’t wait to go back!
Photography courtesy Hayley Stols