- CHERRY FESTIVAL
Situated in the scenic panorama of the Eastern Free State, along the Maloti Route, Ficksburg nestles between the foot of the Imperani Mountain and the banks of the Cale- don River, the border with Lesotho. As a backdrop there are magnificent views of the majestic Malotis , which change with the seasons, from the purple haze of summer to the snow-clad slopes in winter.
Ficksburg was founded on 12 June 1867 and named after General Jan Fick, Commander-General of the old Orange Free State Republic. General Fick’s mission was to protect the border between the then Basotholand and the Orange Free State. The government encouraged settlers by offering them land, horses, guns and ammunition in return for settling along the border of the new territory. This discouraged the Basotho from crossing the border, burning farms and stealing cattle.
Today the town is the gateway to Lesotho and the Katse Dam and boasts a large cosmopolitan population. Ficksburg’s economy is based chiefly on mixed agriculture, concentrating mainly on asparagus, cherries and deciduous fruit. Other crops are farmed on a smaller scale. At present there is renewed focus on apples, with more farmers than ever planting apple trees. The district is renowned for the breathtaking sandstone formations of the mountains and many of the older buildings in and around the town were built of sandstone. Interestingly, the Union Buildings in Pretoria are built from sandstone quarried in the surrounding area. Gumtree, the small settlement just outside Ficksburg, has the tallest sandstone structure in the worldan old mill which is sadly no longer in use. Although the number of craftsmen who are able to work in sandstone is dwindling rapidly, there remain a few people who still practise this unique craft. The Cherry Festival is the oldest crop festival in South Africa and has been held annually during the third week in November since 1968. Ficksburg is the place to be for steam train enthusiasts and plays host to a large collection of privately-owned locomotives and rolling stock, some of which may be seen from the road traveling towards Fouriesburg.
Visitors from far and wide flock to the Cherry Festival each year.
The idea for the first Cherry Festival took root in 1968 when a group of young men who had founded a Ficksburg chapter of Jaycee International, the service/leadership development organization, were looking for a project to launch their new organization and perform a service to the community.
Many ideas were thrown around, so it is difficult to say exactly how the Cherry Festival was arrived at. The Jaycees thus connected a Ficksburg product to a festival, which would then promote the cherry industry and the town. Today Ficksburg is known throughout the country as the Cherry Town.
Through the years the Cherry Festival has grown in stature and has become one of the events in South Africa with thousands of visitors during the cherry time. Special bus tours have become very popular and Ficksburg has become a must for tour operators.
- ARTS AND CRAFT
Clocolan was established in 1906 on the farms of Reinzi and Herold because of a general need for school, church and business facilities to provide services to the surrounding areas. Clocolan obtained municipal status on 18 July 1910.
The name Clocolan is derived from the South Sotho word Hlohlolwane meaning stand up and fight, which refers to an altercation between two black tribes, which took place many years ago. The Bakwena gave Clocolan its name. In approximately 1800, the Bakwena chief Motebang lived in the northern part of Clocolan (then Betang) on the farm Nebo, near the Zulu clan, the Baphuthi. Motebang invited the Baphuthi after the successful harvest, to help him and his people to corn-stack the baskets. An argument erupted in the midst of craze; an aged Motebang charged at one of the Baphuthi s, but he tripped over a basket and tumbled to the ground. An all out ruction broke loose. During the row, a slogan was chanted Hlohla-u-loane or Hlohloloane meaning Get/stand up and fight or staan op en veg. Later the site where the fight took place was called Hlohloloane, today corrupted by European pronunciation, the name is Clocolan. The township of Hlohlolwane was a logical result from Clocolans establishment and both towns have experienced growth over ensuring years. The town is located along the Maloti Route main road and 20km from the Caledon River, bordering Lesotho. The town is also strategically located for trade with Lesotho and along the main railway route from the Cape and Southern Free State to KwaZulu-Natal.
Clocolan/Hlohlolwane is easily accessible and lies adjacent to one of the main routes between the mines of the Goldfields and Lesotho. It is also the main north-south route through the Eastern Free State
Tapestries at Thabure Arts and Craft
Designs range from busy Rural Village Scenes to Bushmen Paintings; from Landscapes to Geometric Patterns. We can customize a wall hanging with your choice of theme, size or colour.
Our hand-woven tapestries are ideal gifts for any occasion. You are invited to view and own one of our intricate designs with blended colours.
- KORANNA MOUNTAINS
The town of Marquard was established on the farm Varschfontein, which means ‘Fresh Fountain’, in 1905 when the first of 125 plots were sold at record prices for that time.
Ds J J T Marquard, after whom the town is named, was married to a daughter of John Murray, a son of the legendary missionary, Andrew Murray, and he (Marquard) campaigned fiercely for the establishment of the new town.
It is a beautiful little town, set in the South-Eastern Free State and home to a lively and energetic community, which is known for its friendliness. Visitors are always welcome there and the residents take great pride in their well-kept town.
In days gone by, Marquard was fenced in and there was a night-watchman who would guard the four gates at night. There was only one tap to serve the whole town and legend has it that a local clergyman’s horse learned how to open this tap at night to drink from it, but, of course, couldn’t close it, causing the town’s reservoir to run dry. Marquard is one of few towns which still has a working mill, a beautiful old building well worth seeing.
The imposing NG Church was built from sandstone quarried in the district, as was the gabled town hall. The Marquard Hotel, now a boutique hotel, also dates back to the early 1900s.
The town has a colourful history, with tales being told of a stock auction at which a lion was put up for sale, with a fox terrier being added to the lot to increase its value! The biggest annual event in Marquard is the Korannaberg Mountain Bike Race, regarded as one of South Africa’s premier off-road biking events. It is a superb test of the effectiveness of the riders’ training schedule. The track features twists and turns down sandstone rock faces — the very essence of mountain biking.
The largest business in Marquard is Sparta Beef, a family- owned and operated cattle feed-lot and farming concern which has been in the Van Reenen family for over 100 years.
The feedlot started off as a small cattle-feeding facility in the late 1960s, with ± 30 head of cattle on feed all year round. To date, it has grown to accommodate about 50 000 mixed breeds of cattle, depending on the time of year.
At any given time, it has between 48 000 and 50 000 head of cattle on feed and between 10 000 and 27 000 calves on the farms. Sparta is the largest employer in the Marquard district and one of the largest in the Free State. In 2009 Marquard won an award for been the cleanest town in South Africa.
History of the Koranna Two Mountains Challenge
Back in 1991, the late Rob Earle from Sparta Beef Invited JBMC to asses some potential mountain bike trails over the Easter Weekend. The idea was was to bring more business into the area in addition to the existing hiking trails.
On the first day, they rode the Christmaskrans Trail and then, after a day’s rest, Rob sent them off up the Two Mountains trail with a wicked glint in his eyes. The faster group of riders got lost and only did half the trail, coming down via Magermanshoek, taking six hours to complete the ride. The slower group also got lost, but these hapless riders unwittingly did the entire route, and were ten hoursin the saddle, doing the final downhill by Braille at 8pm without lights.
After a memorable spit braai at Sparta Beef, the foundation was laid for another ten mountain bike trails, a collection of immaculately restored houses for budget accommodation, a tradition of hospitality towards mountain bikers, and most importantly, the Koranna Two Mountains Classic Endurance MTB challenge
- DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH
Senekal was established on 7 June 1877 on the farm De Puk in the district of Winburg. It is the panoramic Eastern Free State on the main route between Bloemfontein and in the heart of a flourishing and progressive agricultural district. The first sales of the plots started on 25 May 1875 and were a huge success. Thirty plots were sold for R4 600.
Senekal is named after Cmdt-General F P Senekal. Built of sandstone and erected in 1896 in the middle of the business centre, is the stately and historic NG Church with the equally historic wall of fossilised tree trunks that surrounds the church. It has been declared a historic monument. According to scientists, these tree trunks are approximately 250 million years old. The fossils were removed at the Sand River, west of Senekal.
The Dutch Reformed Church was built on the same place as where the original Dutch Reformed Church stood since 1875 to 1895. The church became too small and was replaced by the current church. JH and AE Till were the architects and the builder was Rowe Marshall and Hill. The church was initiated on 17 December 1896.
The church is situated in Van Riebeeck Street in the middle of Senekal.
A wall of petrified tree trunks encircles the historic old Dutch Reformed Church. According to scientists these tree trunks are approximately 250 million years old. The longest trunk with a length of 17,5 m is situated in the western side of the ring-wall. Die fossil tree trunks were excavated next to the Sandrivier, west of Senekal. The tree fossils belong to various Dadoxylon tree species; under which is the Dadoxylon Sclerosum and is – according to some palaeontologists – related to the plant division Coniferophyta to which the current pine and yellowwood belong.