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 af*ter General Jan Fick, Commander-General of the old Or*ange 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 agricul*ture, concentrating mainly on asparagus, cherries and de*ciduous 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 build*ings in and around the town were built of sandstone. In*terestingly, 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 travelling towards Fouriesburg.
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. To find out more about the cherryfestival visit.