Members of Mpumalanga Heritage and others descended on the historical village and living museum for a special heritage weekend on July 20 -22.
The entertainment started off on Friday evening with a pub crawl with visitors enjoying a drink at two watering holes in town, the clubhouse at the golf course and the Paradise in New Town. At Johnny’s Pub there was also a special pre-launch book signing by Gerrit Haarhof for his coffee-table table book “Forgotten tracks and trails of the escarpment and the Lowveld”.
Even though some of the guests partied late, many still made very the early Saturday morning start to discover part of the first section of the old escarpment wagon road, as described in “Jock of the Bushveld”. The trip, guided by Haarhof, meandered through Lydenburg, Sabie, Mac-Mac Falls and back to Pilgrim’s Rest.
The sunny weather, although cool, was ideal for visitors to enjoy refreshments at the street side cafés and browse the shops and museums. The tour to the recently refurbished Diggings Site, which includes gold panning demonstrations, was particularly popular.
The golden past was relived as guests arrived for the dinner at the Royal Hotel dressed in old-time finery. They also enjoyed a wine-tasting, sponsored by Bidvest wines, as well as a performance by a local troupe of can-can dancers. The Royal Hotel sponsored a prize of two night’s accommodation for two for the best-dressed guest. “So jy mag ‘n bedmaat saambring,” quipped Marius Bakkes, who organized the heritage weekend, before he announced the prize winner who was Stella Visser from White River.
The weekend was arranged by Mpumalanga Heritage in conjunction with museum services and the businesses in Pilgrim’s Rest. Members of Mpumalanga Heritage were heard expressing their dismay at the extent to which the Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport, which manages the village, has allowed the caravan park to deteriorate. In an interview with the SABC during the weekend the Chairperson of the organisation, Duncan Ballantyne, said that it will be adding its voice to the call to urge the provincial government to revive historical towns.