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For many South Africans, oysters and Knysna are synonymous. The Knysna Oyster Festival is arguably one of South Africa’s best known and most loved festivals. The 34th Knysna Oyster Festival will take place from 7 -16 July 2017 and promises to be bigger and better than ever.
The first Oyster Festival took place in 1983 and its main purpose was to attract tourists during the quiet winter period with a number of sporting events. It effectively sealed Knysna’s reputation as the oyster capital of South Africa and attracts thousands of visitors each year to consume, well, thousands of these sought after molluscs, described as the ‘food of the gods’. Aphrodite herself rose from the sea in an oyster shell before giving birth to Eros.
Knysna was home to South Africa’s first commercial oyster company, founded in 1948, to meet a growing demand that the supply of indigenous wild oysters could not meet. It also provided jobs for many in, what was then, still a small forestry and fishing town. It is somewhat ironic then, that oysters are no longer farmed in the waters around Knysna.
Yet the waters around Knysna hold other gems during the festival. An unattested highlight is the entry of the navy vessel through the Knysna Heads, surrounded by an entourage of fans and hangers-on. In 1988 Knysna Municipality bestowed Freedom of Entry onto the South African Navy and people come from far afield to watch the South African Navy minehunter navigate these often treacherous waters to enter the Knysna estuary.
Known as South Africa’s premium sport and lifestyle festival, the Knysna Oyster Festival has distinguished itself as one of the best and biggest gatherings for sport enthusiasts. For decades sportsmen and women from all over South Africa have been drawn to the festival for either the Knysna Cycle Tour or the Knysna Forest Marathon & Half Marathon. These two events are still core events during the festival but several others have joined it on the events calendar.
Events such as the Simola Phantom Night Run, the Elephant and Terblans Free Range Runs, the Featherbed Trail Run, the Harbour2Heads Lagoon Challenge and the Featherbed Knysna Dragons Lagoon Mile have added much to attract sport and outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world. Adrenalin junkies may combine most of these events in either the Big 5 Sport Challenge or the Big 5 Sport Challenge Lite.
It is not only sport enthusiast who will be able to satisfy appetites. Firm favourites on the calendar such as the Knysna Wine Festival& Night Market, the Comedy Chuckle, the Flavours of Knysna, the Bubby, Oysters & Chocolate with live music, and Seafood Wednesday with the SASSI Fish Braai, Oyster Shucking and eating Competition will satisfy all other senses.
There will be much to do for the kids and, with events such as the Dare 2 Dash Obstacle Challenge, the Simola Little Phantom – Kids Adventure Run, the Knysna Children’s Cycle Tour, the Kid’s Pavement Art Competition and the Fairground, parents will have more than enough to keep the young ones busy.
The festival offers a huge boost to the local economy and also includes a huge charity component. In 2016 more than 3 million rand were raised on behalf of by various charities in Knysna and its surrounds.
Entry to the festival is free, although tickets or entry fees apply to many of the events. With such a wide variety of activities as well as a shuttle service running for the duration of the festival, is it any wonder that the festival attracts more than 50 000 visitors?
Please visit their website or follow them on Facebook for more information and the full festival program.
Visit their website at www.oysterfestival.co.za
Or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KnysnaOysterFestival/