COUNTRY festivals are unique with each having its own flavour and special twists – but one thing that they all have in common is friendly locals and lots of unusual fun.
The Hogsback Garden Club has for the past 10 years being organising the annual Spring Garden Festival.
This year the Spring Saunter, as the festival is also known, will be taking place from today until Tuesday.
It's a relaxed celebration of spring (the spring equinox is on Sunday) and visitors to Hogsback can enjoy the riotous colours of the perfumed spring flowers that carpet the village lane, the carefully tended formal gardens and nature's own wild garden, the indigenous Amathole Mountain Forest.
A variety of activities will be taking place around the village over the long weekend including a crafters' market at the visitor information centre.
A number of crafters from Eastern Cape towns will be in attendance including the Keiskammahoek Craft Cooperative from Hamburg and a wool spinning crafter from Port Elizabeth who will be doing spinning demonstrations.
And of course there will be Hogsback crafters and exhibitors including one who specialises in indigenous herbs and medicines and a pewter artist.
There will be an indigenous tree stall holder and various home industry and food stalls. Stihl are offering chainsaw demonstrations and product advice.
The well known local hog sellers and stick-makers will also benefit from the festival.
There will be various public performances including by the drum majorettes team from Alice and the award-winning Iminglangathelo Marimba Players.
The elephant show, stilt-walking and fire dancing, paintball games and a potjiekos competition are some of the other activities that have been booked.
In other parts of Hogsback, for example at King's Lodge and Hogsback Inn, there will be another group of crafters, and suppliers specialising in furniture, woodwork and fine art who need to be under cover. A beer garden with entertainment is being organised by the local pub – the Happy Hogs – at their premises.
At The Edge, port and champagne will be on offer to enjoy while visiting the azalea and bonsai exhibition in their conference centre.
On Sunday, another exhibition, Art in the Park with Tea, will be taking place in the Nutwoods Heritage Garden.
At Starways Pottery and the Rose Theatre in Hogsback, the programme of events includes poetry readings by the Ecca Poets Group, and music.
The well-known a cappella Carmina Choir from Grahamstown will be performing on Saturday and so will guitarists Jamie Jupiter and Kathy Raven.
On Heritage Day, Anton and Vale van der Merwe together with Luyanda Mafika will be holding a raku pottery firing demonstration in the main wood-fired kiln at Starways.
Also a special Heritage Day marimba performance by Jonathan Ncosana from Fort Hare University music department will take place at the visitor centre. Guided garden tours of the private gardens of Hogsback which are being opened for the pleasure of the visiting public, will be conducted by the Garden Club every day.
Self-guided garden tours will also be available.
Visitors can also visit Fairy Realm set in the beautiful gardens of Camelot, enjoy a tranquil walk in the Arboretum and admire the redwoods and the 39 Steps waterfall.
Or, for the fit, there's the walk to Madonna and Child waterfall and The Big Tree.
You can also visit The Art Cafe, Mirrors Photo Gallery, Crystal Corner and the Eco Shrine.
For those who enjoy outdoor adventure horse rides are organised by Amathole Horse Trails.
Enjoy a pizza at Butterfly Bistro, a beer at happy Hogs or a delicious steak at The Lighthouse – there is something for everyone.
For more information on the Spring Saunter at Hogsback visit http://hogsbackgardens. blogspot.com
For more information on Hogsback visit www.hogsbackinfo.co.za www.hogsback.co.za and www.hogsback.com Or contact the visitor information centre on (045)962-1245.