By Julienne du Toit
Photographs by Julienne du Toit & Chris MaraisEveryone loves a parade and Cradock people are no exception. Even the hot midsummer sun could not keep hundreds of Heartlanders from joining a pageant on Tuesday 21 January to celebrate the town’s 200th birthday.
The parade neatly encapsulated all that Cradock holds dear. Appropriately enough, children made up the majority of the marchers. Schools had been closed for the occasion, so there were hundreds of uniformed learners from Cradock High, Primary and Preparatory, JA Calata Secondary, Matthew Goniwe Combined, Michausdal Secondary and Marlow High.
Heading them up were vintage cars (carrying the mayors of the Chris Hani District Municipality and the Inxuba Yethemba Local Municipality), a brass band, Victorian era horse drawn wagons and buggies, some ladies in Xhosa traditional dress, others in Voortrekker bonnets and long skirts.
Every single one of Cradock’s many sportsclubs was represented, including the Canoe Club, the Golf Club, Evergreens Rugby Club, the Karoo Springboks, Veritas Rugby Club, the Jukskei Club, the Bowls Club, the Local Football Association and Standard Cricket Club – which is celebrating its 150th birthday this year.
There were various non-governmental organisations including the Vukusebenze Shelter, the Cradock-Middelburg Tourism Association, Cradock Business Forum, Nonzamo Special Day Care Centre, Cradock Hospice, the Cradock Cultural Association, the Afrikaans Taal en Kultuur Vereeniging, as well as the Mountain Zebra National Park.
Agriculture underpins the finances of Cradock, and the farm part of the procession included prize Merino rams, Dormer sheep, Angora goats, boerbokke and a lucerne-filled bakkie topped with a farmer and an interested border collie dog.
A John Deere tractor also pulled a beautifully restored and painted oxwagon.
People lined the streets to watch as the parade which started at the showgrounds, up Church Street, into JA Calata, Voortrekker, Adderley, Victoria and then back down across the Gilfillan Bridge.
Before the parade left the showgrounds, Chris Hani District Municipality Mayor Mxolisi Koyo and Inxuba Yethemba Local Municipality Mayor Nyameka Goniwe gave stirring speeches that were well-received by the crowd. They spoke of communities building bridges in this momentous year.
“It was a marvellous experience, a real bonding experience for the town, with support from everyone,” said Brian Wilmot, head of Cradock-Middelburg Tourism Association.
- The next event to celebrate Cradock’s Bi-Centenary will be a match between the EP Kings and the Free State Cheetahs on 29 March.