Free State Attractions: Bothaville

Free State Attractions: Bothaville

The town of Bothaville, established in 1891 as a church parish called Botharnia is situated at the confluence of the Vals and Vaal Rivers. In 1893 the town received municipal status and was renamed Bothaville. Bothaville is located in one of the corners of the so-called “Maize Triangle” and was officially recognised as the “Maize Capital of South Africa” in February 1995. The region’s total annual maize crop is between 4 and 10 million tons, depending on the rainfall and the production per hectare varies from under a ton per hectare on subsistence farms to 10 tons on commercial farms. Bothaville is well known for the annual NAMPO (National Maize Production Organisation) Harvest Day Show, the largest privately owned agricultural show in the world, which is hosted here each May, and the NAMPO Outdoor Living Expedition held in September each year. Many local and international visitors regularly attend the agricultural show. The town also has a factory that manufactures agricultural machinery and tractors and is the headquarters of Grain South Africa (GSA).

Adventure And Sport

Hiking, birdwatching and angling: There are several hiking trails in the vicinity, including the Visarend and Mealie Trails. Wag-‘n-Bietjie Eco Farm offers visitors a fantastic hiking trail, as well as superb birdwatching opportunities and fly-fishing from the banks of the Vaal River.

Sport: The town has facilities for basketball, bowls, cricket, golf, horse riding (gymkhana), karate, rugby, squash and jukskei. There is also a parachuting club and a marathon running club.

Water sport: The nearby Vals and Vaal Rivers offer wonderful opportunities for boating, angling and other water sports.

Art And Crafts

Art and Craft Shops: Several shops in town sell articles, such as concrete ornaments at De Meyer Betonwerke, decorative furniture and paintings at Metal Magic, beautifully crafted gold and silver jewellery at Cas Cordier Jewellers and Goldsmith, leather watches from Anker Leather Works, and wooden puzzles and decor for children’s rooms from Deja Zoo.

Miniature Wire Cars: The business with the innovative name of Africars produces typical South African wire cars and other toys that will appeal to the young and young at heart.

Model cars: Handmade model cars are manufactured to scale and sold on the farm Vienna.

Pottery: Argilla Pottery designs and sells handmade pottery articles.

Tarentaalbosch Art Market: A big art and craft market is held at this venue, on the farm Tarentaalbosch, at designated times during the year.

Thusanang: Lovely handmade articles produced by local residents are on sale at this venue.

Culture/Community Tourism

Maize-Witblits-Culture Route: The Bothaville/Maize Capital Tourism Forum has compiled and developed 18 routes that traverse the town and surroundings and that take in most – if not all – the tourist attractions of the town and district. The attractions and leisure activities that are included vary from hiking, river rafting and fly-fishing on the Vaal River, to visiting museums, goldsmiths and art and craft markets. Visitors may also opt to pay a visit to one of the farms in the district; there are a lion farm, pig farm and maize and cattle farm to choose from. Most tours include a champagne breakfast and/or a chance to sample the “witblits” for which the town is famous.

Entertainment And Shopping

Agricultural Show: The annual NAMPO (National Maize Production Organisation) Harvest Day Show takes place in May each year on the NAMPO Farm where mostly summer grain farmers and their providers exhibit their products and expertise and also organise and run the show. More than 35 000 visitors, mainly other farmers, extension officers and government officials, as well as the general public attend the show each year. There is a landing strip and heliport on the farm and a commuter service connects the showground with the airport and the town.

Outdoor Living Expo: NAMPO Outdoor Living Expo is hosted at the NAMPO farm in September each year where outdoor, eco tourism and nature enthusiasts can attend live demonstrations and find out what is on offer in the world of outdoor living.

Pioneer Maize Capital Food and Witblits Festival: This festival, held annually in October, offers visitors a taste of the town’s locally produced liqueur and potent “witblits”, an alcoholic drink said to “kick” like a mule! Other interesting drinks, dishes and foodstuffs featuring the honoured mealie are on sale, as well as fresh vegetables and flowers and an array of handmade arts and crafts. Come and enjoy true Free State hospitality.

Fauna And Flora

Arabian horses: Middelbult Farm and Sadat Horse Farm are successful breeders of Arabian horses. Visits to these farms are by appointment only.

Roses: Hundreds of different rose hybrids can be seen at Slots Roses and on Middelbult Farm.

History And Architecture

Distilling Vat: The word “witblits” means “white lightning” and is the name of a very potent alcoholic drink, traditionally brewed by Afrikaners. Bothaville still preserves a copper vat used in the distilling of “witblits”.

Doornkraal Battlefield and Monument: The Doornkraal Battlefield near Bothaville was the site of a surprise attack on General Christiaan de Wet and his men on 6 November 1900. Although De Wet escaped, the other members of his commando made a brave stand and fought to the bitter end. De Wet’s escape led to a determined effort by the British to capture him and became known as the second drive on de Wet. The Monument erected at the battlefield site honours the 131 Boers who died in the attack.

Dutch Reformed Church and Vicarage: The imposing sandstone Dutch Reformed Church, erected in 1918, was designed by Gerhard Moerdyk, the architect who designed the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria . The beautiful sandstone vicarage was built in 1898.

Historic Police Station: The oldest building in town, a three-room sandstone building in President Street, was erected in 1894 to serve as a police station and prison. It now serves as the town’s museum.

Rider Memorial: A marble Anglo-Boer War memorial, the Rider Memorial, is situated in front of the Dutch Reformed Church.

Town Hall: This lovely old building is a structure well worth preserving.

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