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The annual Deutsche Internationale Schule Johannesburg (DSJ) Schulbasar has built a reputation for being a very lively event and is a major highlight on the Johannesburg social calendar. The first Basar took place in 1905 and was a fun fair based on the Hamburger ‘Dom’. In the following years, particularly between World War I and II, little attention was paid to the Basar due to the prevailing social and political conditions.
At the end of World War II, the Basar once again attracted more public attention and grew into the biggest fundraising event for the school. The colourful hustle and bustle of the Basar took place at the DSJ until 2004. The growing popularity meant that the school grounds could no longer accommodate the volume of visitors so the decision was taken to hold this event off school grounds.
Former General Manager Mike Stenemann remembers those exciting years: “At the 2004 Basar, we had approximately 27000 visitors and 3000 workers on the school grounds and the financial result was incredible. The magnitude of the event, however, made it extremely dangerous. At 16h00, there were still thousands of people waiting to enter at Sans Souci Road entrance and ambulances were neither able to reach nor leave the adjacent Milpark Hospital. In those days, glass beer mugs as well as glass bottles were used and these lay around all over the grounds. This proved to be a big problem the next day, when delivery trucks drove onto the grounds for collection and consequently reduced everything to a pile of shattered remains. Additional helper staff were still on their knees picking up broken pieces of glass on the fields week later.
As a result, Management and School Board decided to find an alternative venue for the Basar, which would see the event separated into a school fate (similar to the today’s Family Day) and the ‘Bierfest’. The ‘Bierfest’ was hosted off the school grounds between 2005 and 2007 but in 2008 returned to the DSJ. The success of the 2008 Basar on the school grounds confirmed that this decision had been the right one.”
The Basar has once again seen a rise in popularity, offering something for all ages, making ‘The Ultimate German Experience’ a truly unique event.