An afternoon at the fair…Marloth Park Honorary Rangers Winter Fair, that is!….

At the entrance to the Marloth Park Honorary Rangers Winter Fair.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This was a first…three warthogs sleeping in the yard, from left to right, Tusker, Little Wart Face, and Ms. Warthog, who the two boys were both interested in courting.

Yesterday, Saturday afternoon, we drove the short distance to Henk Van Rooyen Park located on the Crocodile River to attend the annual Marloth Park Honorary Rangers Winter Fair. We had no idea what to expect.
Each year the Honorary Rangers work hard to present this festive fundraiser and social event for the residents and visitors of Marloth Park. The entrance fee was a paltry ZAR 20 (US $1.46) per person, paid at the entrance gate.

Marloth Park Conservancy display with educational information about wildlife.

Once inside the gate, we didn’t have trouble finding a parking spot that had Tom concerned a few days before the event. He always worries about traffic and parking. It must be a “guy thing.” I never give either a thought. With attendees coming and going to the day-long event, it was easy to slide into a convenient spot without concern.

A display of a variety of plant and animals items.

Within moments of entering the fair, we started running into people we knew, which surprised and pleased us both. We knew we’d met many beautiful people in the past almost five months in Marloth Park, but until many were assembled at the public venue, we had no idea how many we’d come to know.

Many locally made handicrafts were offered for sale.

We purchased raffle tickets, played a game, and Tom enjoyed a big glass of beer for only ZAR 25 ($1.82).  Wandering by and stopping at many of the kiosks, we engaged in lively conversations with people we knew and many new people we met. We’re always amazed by how friendly the locals are here in the park. We’ve been made to feel so welcomed.

This lovely Honorary Ranger was equally friendly as all of the others we encountered at the fair.

It’s not always easy for local people to readily welcome strangers to their special place. Often, new people are left feeling like “outsiders,” but this has never been the case here.

Of course, there’s always jewelry for sale at fairs.

We realized that as of late, we’d posted a few “controversial” stories that could make particular residents uncomfortable. Never for a moment did we feel any strain or judgment from any participants at the event or otherwise.

A band played during the festivities.

Let’s face it, and this is a tiny town. There are currently 4355 properties in the park, including yet-to-be-built “stands” (lots or plots of land). These stats may be found at this demographics site here.

Picnic tables were available for those eating, drinking, or chatting.

In speaking with locals since we arrived on February 11th, we’ve heard that there may be less than 1000 property owners in the park at any given time. Of course, there are always several hundred tourists staying in holiday homes, such as us, although not necessarily for as long as we do.

Three of our friends were operating the beer kiosk from left to right in the center, Paul, John, and Sandra.

Many homeowners have homes in other locations, many right here in South Africa in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, and many other cities. Then, many homeowners from the Netherlands, the UK, and many other parts of the world.

Our friend Evan was selling soda and water.

Overall, most of the people we’ve met are native South Africans or have become residents/citizens of South Africa from other parts of the world. Oddly, as we’ve mentioned in prior posts, other than friends Kathy and Don, we’ve yet to meet any residents, property owners, or tourists from the US. 

There were several old telephones on the top shelf in this display, along with other antique-type items.

We assume few Americans here due to the long distance and the high cost to fly back and forth between any US state and Marloth Park. There aren’t many. As of today, the round trip fare to fly from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga, South Africa, is (as of today’s best rate) is ZAR 38,441 (US $2800) per person, and the flight is over 34 hours. 

Handmade beaded wildlife characters.

Can you imagine how costly and time-consuming it would be for US citizens to fly back and forth to their “vacation/holiday” in Marloth Park three or four times a year? Few people choose this type of location for a second or third home due to these facts.

More jewelry…

We’ve yet to go to Kruger with all the holidaymakers here right now. I’ve seen a few videos from sightings in Kruger, and the cars were backed up on the tar road. As mentioned above, we prefer to go to Kruger when the traffic dies down a little. Perhaps, we’ll attempt sometime this week between planned social events or the following week.

Artist’s renditions of wildlife along with an array of skulls, horns, and tusks.

The “school holiday” for South Africans ends on July 17th. Then, there will be many more Europeans and others coming to Marloth for their summer holiday.  All of this should taper off by mid-August. By the time we return from Zambia on August 23rd, it should be quiet again in the park, at least until Christmas, when it is packed with tourists once again.

This was my favorite.  For ZAR 20 (US $1.46), a participant could pull one of the tangled strings to see which bottles they pulled as their prize.  We took two tries for ZAR 40 ($2.92).  See what I “won” in the photo below.

A special thank you to all Marlothians who’ve made us feel so welcomed in your magical place and, thanks to all of our readers for sharing it all with us!

Here’s what I won, a large bottle of tomato sauce and bottled water, both of which we’ll certainly use.

May your day be as bright and sunny as we expect ours to be.

 Photo from one year ago today, July 1, 2017:

Wayzata Bay is only a tiny portion of huge Lake Minnetonka with over 14,000 acres and 140 miles of shoreline where we boated for many years. For more details, please click here.

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