The maize industry forms the basis of Bothaville’s economic heartbeat. After the first summer rains, ideally from mid October, the district is abuzz with producers preparing the maize fields for planting. Maize is usually planted from October to the end of December. The area undergoes a colour metamorphosis from winter to summer; in winter, the ripe golden maize is harvested while the fields are covered in lush green maize in summer.
Travelling between the maize fields creates a feeling of being in a verdant tunnel, especially later in the planting season when the maize often reaches a height of six feet and more. Summer is also corn on the cob time, a favourite Free State delicacy. The maize is simply cooked in boiling water and enjoyed with salt and butter.
The Free State, Bothaville in particular, is known for extreme dust storms in spring. The storms are a sight to behold. A single storm often covers an area of several kilometres and can be seen coming from a distance. The storms are sometimes so intense that the day turns into night.
The largest part by far of Bothaville’s economy is directly or indirectly dependent on the maize industry. Climate disasters such as floods and droughts do not only affect the agricultural industry but impact on virtually every individual in the town. Bothaville suffers with the farmers in times of crisis and rejoices with them in times of plenty. The importance of the grain industry is underscored by the fact that some 550 000 tons of maize is produced, harvested and stored in the town annually.
Bothaville, with nearly 50 000 inhabitants, was officially established in 1893. The town is situated on the banks of the Vals River which meets up with the Vaal River about 6km from the town. The Vaal has become a premier destination for Yellowfish fly-fishing and catch-and-release is promoted.
Bothaville is also known for exceptional sandstone architecture such as the Dutch Reformed Church designed by the well-known architect, Gerhard Moerdyk and built in 1913.
The Anglo Boer War Battle of Doornkraal took place near Bothaville on 6 November 1900. General Charles Knox, with some mounted infantry under Colonels de Lisle and Le Gallais, overtook General Christiaan de Wet and the Free State President M.T. Steyn while they were camped on the farm Doornkraal some 15km outside town. De Wet and his men were forced to flee after the surprise attack. De Wet, however, had his revenge and captured hundreds of British soldiers some three weeks later in the Southern Free State.
The annual Nampo Harvest Day exhibition is one of the important financial injections for the Bothaville community. More than 80 000 national and international visitors descend on the town for the four-day event, the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Over and above national exhibitors, companies from as far afield as the USA, South America and Europe take part in this world-class event.
The town offers a wide array of accommodation for visitors on farms and in town in the form of top class guesthouses, self catering accommodation and camping.
The Datsun Heritage Museum
The museum, located in Bothaville, was started by Freek de Kock in 2007. It claims to be the largest private collection of Nissan and Datsun vehicles outside Japan and features a number of world-renowned models, including an orange Datsun 240Z, the 1200 GX, the Laurel and the Pulsar.
Freek is a life-long Datsun fan and started collecting vehicles nearly a decade ago when his two sons took over the family business, giving him more time to focus on his passion in his spare time. Now, de Kock is ready to share his passion with fellow car enthusiasts and passers-by.
You can make an appointment by calling Freek de Kock at 082 4936552 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some tips for your road trip to Bothaville
What better way to be inspired on your way to a Datsun museum than to ensure you drive your very own Datsun there. There’s nothing like comparing your new model to the golden oldies.
Did you know? Bothaville is just a three-hour drive from Johannesburg and Bloemfontein, and that’s why road snacks are essential. Coffee in a flask and a few Ouma rusks will be the order of the day on your road trip.
If you’d like to stretch your legs on the drive, Potchefstroom is about 120km from Johannesburg and on your way to Bothaville. Whether you’re a bird-lover or you’re just in the mood to take time-out, the Potchefstroom Botanical Gardens are a must-see.