Crab Apple Blossom

A spring garden filled with flowering cherries and azaleas was created by Box (Sheila) Thompson. The formidable, chairlady of the then Garden Club, Jackie Jackson, with the help of her garden club members opened the garden to the public; they served tea and some local handcraft was available for sale. The proceeds were then put to good use and garden cottages for senior citizens were built in Haenertsburg.

However, there were other clever local people, who busied themselves with various handcraft and art, but who did not belong to the garden club. Without treading on any garden toes, Gill Dodington, Alex Benjamin and Janine Keeny formed a committee and with the backing of the Magoebaskloof Hotel Manager, Horst Dombrock and Guy Matthews the Managing Director of Magoebaskloof Investments, it was agreed that the Dickie Dagge Hall at Magoebaskloof Hotel be made available Free of Charge, for the newly formed Spring Fair, to be held during September and during the azalea and cherry flowering time. At the time Magoebaskloof was a good choice as people had heard of Magoebaskloof BUT Haenertsburg where on earth was that?

The prime object of the newly formed Spring Fair being to promote local craft, art and local produce. We were inspired and opened in 1985, but got carried away with enthusiasm as the time set was for SIX WEEKS! This was quickly changed to three weeks. This time period remained until about 5 years ago when it was cut down to ten days, the public holiday in September being an important consideration.

The original commitment was for the sale of local handcrafts and produce. Stall-holders who employed less than 5 people were the only people considered. This has changed over the years as organizations employing rural people in work situations are now considered. It was a non profit organization, run by locals in their own time and with any profits donated to local charities. However as the Spring Fair expanded it became more of a full time job and it became necessary for various expenses to be paid to individuals. It was also decided that 5% of the total takings be made available to the Magoebaskloof Hotel.

Over the years we were fortunate to have tremendous input and help from Magoebaskloof Hotel. Radio Today with Peter Lotus, Pick & Pay with Ewan Watt were hosted by the Hotel during the Spring Fair in return for their advertising both in radio and print. For many years we had various people open the Spring Fair on the first Friday evening and the Hotel sponsored eats and welcome beverages to all the locals. Shirley Veale and other Radio personalities broadcast from the Hotel on the Saturday morning. Unfortunately due to economic circumstances the official opening is now a thing of the past, but even now with the new owners of Magoebaskloof Hotel all the stallholders from both in the Dickie Dagge Hall and the Haenertsburg Hall, have been and are hosted by them on the first Friday evening of the Fair.

With the expansion and news coverage we received for the Spring Fair and the number of visitors in the area, various businesses in Haenertsburg felt they were not receiving much benefit. The Haenertsburg Hall had been used as a venue for various entertainments, and Church Services, but was not put to daily use. Five years ago this changed and the Hall became an additional venue for stallholders.