The Volksblad Arts and Crafts Market in Bloemfontein
There are so many malls and shopping centres in South Africa – it seems that even the small towns need two or three malls to draw consumerism out of shoppers and make them buy so much “stuff”. It appears that the thing-to-do is to be seen at a mall with shopping bags packed under your arms.
Whatever happened to supporting local arts and crafts artisans, of browsing through stalls in a market-like environment and choosing items to purchase based on the quality of their craftsmanship and the décor appeal? These artworks will give you a sense of homeliness and culture when you display the artists’ wares in your living room or entrance hall.
Living close to Bloemfontein, we often make the trip to the aptly named City of Roses, taking advantage of my sister’s garden cottage as our Bloemfontein accommodation to be able to stay over for a weekend to enjoy the sights and sounds. What I like best is the monthly Volksblad Arts and Crafts Market, which is held at Kings Park. On the first Saturday of every month, artists bring their artwork and crafts handiwork to be on display for people who appreciate a deeper sense of culture and are prepared to pay very good rates for local artists’ work.
This isn’t like the “arts and crafts” you’ll find at airports, which are so ludicrously marked up because of their convenient location for travel gifts, but real artists’ very own work. These brave people have chosen to eke out a living from their natural talent, or to support their monthly income with hobbies that they really love doing.
Kings Park is a great venue for the market as everyone is familiar with the location as the ideal spot for family entertainment. My kids love the green and open vibe of the place and they enjoy interacting with other kids there (who probably also get a bit bored while their mothers stroll along and browse through the stalls). Often they get drawn towards the food stalls while we wander off towards the paintings or admire the thousands of roses. I always have to tell the kids that if they behave, they get a trip to the Bloemfontein Zoo, which also shares space with the park.
It’s great for a morning out, since the arts and crafts market is held from 07:00 to 13:00, and is one of the reasons why we keep coming back. Hope to see you there!