Situated at the gateway to Lesotho in the foothills of the Imperani Mountains, the small Free State town of Ficksburg is perhaps best known for its annual Cherry Festival, the longest running festival of its kind in South Africa.
Founded on 12 June 1867 and named after General Jan Fick, the Commander General of the old Orange Free State, the town has become a busy trading stop over the years, due in part to the fact that it is located so close to the Lesotho border. The area is predominantly an agricultural region and is renowned for producing some of the country’s finest grain products, livestock, cherries and asparagus.
The town has become a tourist hotspot, with its magnificent views of the Maluti Mountains. The surrounding nature reserves offer visitors tranquility at its best and water sport enthusiasts will find their needs catered for at the nearby Meulspruit Dam. The town boasts some excellent examples of sandstone architecture and the local stone was also used to construct the imposing Union Buildings in Pretoria.
According to statistics released by Lightstone, property sales in Ficksburg have improved dramatically since 2009, when 39 sales took place. The picture in 2012 is somewhat different and the stats reveal that property sales have virtually doubled, with 71 residential property transfers taking place in the last 12 months.
Market stock in the area is dominated by the freehold sector, with 92 percent of property falling into this category. The average price paid for a freehold property came in at R523 000, up by just over 20 percent on the R419 000 paid in 2009. Sectional title sales are faring well thus far in 2012, with the average price paid for a unit coming in at R452 000, a marked increase on the R306 000 average paid in 2011.
One of the most interesting facts is that of the 71 transfers recorded by the deeds office in the last 12 months, only 35 of the deals required bond finance. That said, however, South African banks still loaned just over R473-million for the purchase of property in the region during 2011.
Although visitors can enjoy a 4x4 tour through Lesotho, a visit to Thaba Imperani Game Reserve or a visit to the oldest asparagus farm in South Africa, Fickburg’s biggest draw card is its famous Cherry Festival.
Arguably the largest of its kind in Africa, Ionia Cherry Farm has become a national landmark and attracts thousands of visitors to the region during the months of October and November each year. The five farms which make up the Ionia Cherry Tour have over 15 000 cherry trees, featuring 13 different varieties of this little red fruit, which is often referred to as ‘the fruit of the Gods’.