The cherry on top
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Tinsel adorning shop shelves, Boney M playing on the loud speakers and bakers all around prepping their mixes for the perfect Christmas fruit cake. But what is a fruit cake without its star ingredient, cherries? No need to be nervous, the cherry harvest is upon us and the Free State towns of Ficksburg and Fouriesburg are putting the final touches on their preparations for their mid November cherry festivals.
Cherry cheer in Ficksburg
Known as the cherry capital of the world, Ficksburg is nestled between the foot of the Imperani Mountain and the banks of the Caledon River, the border with Lesotho. Founded in 1883, Ficksburg was named after General Jan Fick. Today Ficksburg is the gateway to Lesotho. Agriculturally, Ficksburg is known mainly for its cherries harvested from October through December, with a Cherry Festival held each year in mid November. Started in 1968, it is the longest running festival in South Africa. The 49th festival will be held from 16-18 November this year. Live music, children’s entertainment and workshops will complement the main programme and is sure to have something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
Paint the town (cherry) red in Fouriesburg
Fouriesburg is a small town situated in the eastern Free State, South Africa near the Maluti Mountains and only 10 km from Caledon’s Poort border post to the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho.
Undoubtedly cherry country, Fouriesburg has a festival of its own celebrating the harvest of their bright red rubies. The Ionia Cherry Crop Celebration will be held from 16-19 November on the Ionia Cherry Farm. Cherry picking tours, live music, gourmet food from various vendors, a Christmas market filled to the brim with wonderful gifts, and of course “die Watergat”, a beer tent for those who have to wait for their partners to finish in the Christmas market.
Visitors are invited to pick cherries from the tree, learn about the industry, do a product tasting and most of all have a lot of fun with friends and family.
Why not stay a while
In the heart of the Maluti Mountains you will find the Fouriesburg Country Inn. Steeped in history, the residence (that dates back to 1892), the staff and the ambience exemplify country hospitality at its finest. The recently upgraded 70-seater restaurant pays homage to the fine art of country cuisine, whilst the renovated rooms encourage guests to relax and enjoy the quiet only a country life can provide.
Owners Gilly and Rene Scheepers are passionate about the area and its people. They are working to slowly replace all the art prints in the guest rooms with real artworks by local artists. In 2016, they also started an organic vegetable garden which is now harvested every day for the restaurant.
Guests are invited to come for a stay, or simply visit the restaurant (open 7 days a week), especially on a Sunday for their buffet lunch where you can enjoy the harvest of the week from the garden as part of a 3-course harvest style meal.
Celebrate the wonder of this glistening red fruit that has imbued this area of the Eastern Free State with so much excitement and joy for more than 49 years, and find out why there is no prettier shade of red than cherry red. See you in the orchard!