Knysna Festival celebrates timber history

Aug 19, 2015
Knysna Festival celebrates timber history
Knysna Timber Festival organising committee (from left) Jock McConnachie (Timber Village), Ilse van Schalkwyk (Knysna Municipality Economic Development), Owen Lottering (Woodman's Timber), Dave Simpson (the T&B Group), Morné Smith (Fechters Furniture), Picca De Bruyn (Festival coordinator) and Dominic Morel (Two Heads Marketing). Photo: Fran Kirsten (Festival PR)

The Knysna Timber Festival 2015 was festively launched at the Premier Hotel on Thursday, August 13 when several like-minded guests mingled while enjoying sponsored Mitchell’s Brewery beer and tasty snacks.

The 2014 Working with Wood Festival has been refreshed with a name and venue change, but definitely promises to offer the same successful format as the first 2014 festival. The festival will be held over the school holidays from October 8 – 10. “The Knysna Timber Festival belongs to Knysna, as it should, and promises to be bigger and better than before.” said Jock McConnachie, of the festival organising committee.

He says the decision to move the festival from Timber Village to the Premier Hotel was for purely practical reasons. “Firstly, we needed more space to grow the festival as it demanded. Secondly, we had to take the general weather expected at the time of year into account.” According to McConnachie, Timber Village had turned into a “quagmire” during the heavy rains last month.

“We also wanted to bring the festival closer to the Industrial Area to offer exposure to some of the working timber factories as well as the Eden Community College which is nearby.” This year’s festival will once again include project based workshop presentations offered by Vermont Sales. There will also be machinery displays, furniture exhibitions and a lot more to admire. “To entertain the ladies, we have involved related industries such as architecture and interior design,” said McConnachie.

Retired rear admiral Theo Honiball will be sharing his maritime passion with festival attendees by offering talks about his current project. The project under the leadership of a steering committee is to build a life-size replica of the sailing ship, Knysna. This ship was originally built entirely out of stinkwood by George Rex in 1831 to transport wood from Knysna to Cape Town. Knysna’s expert historian, Margaret Parkes will be sharing her wealth of knowledge. She will be offering talks on the rich history of Knysna’s timber during the festival.

“Knysna and Partners is once again looking forward to celebrating Knysna’s timber heritage with the world through this festival, and will be focusing on using this event to develop a Timber Route, highlighting the timber heritage all year round,” said Knysna and Partners’ CEO, Greg Vogt.

He added that the festival provides everyone involved in the timber industry an opportunity to showcase their involvement and commitment to re-awaken the wood industry which was once the cornerstone of the town’s economy.

“Most importantly, the occasion enables Knysna to re-embrace its valuable timber heritage. Plus the festival will help to reposition the wood industry’s many facets locally, nationally and internationally.”

Owen Lottering, of the festival committee added that the festival will also offer activities for children to stimulate their interest in the craft. “The future of our industry concerns me greatly. It worries me that woodworking is no longer offered as a subject at school. Who is going to carry the craft forward?”

Knysna Executive Mayor, Georlene Wolmarans expressed her appreciation of the festival. “Knysna has a long history and relationship with wood and timber. The Knysna Timber Festival is one way in which we can support our local players in this industry,” she said.

Of the 47 exhibitor stands available, 60 per cent has already been taken. “We are delighted to report that the Knysna Timber Festival has already been well received and supported by numerous local enterprises. Key players in the timber industry nationally have also come to the party. All of whom are impressed with the forward planning and greater scale of the event,” said Picca de Bruin, festival coordinator.

In closing Wolmarans wished the exhibitors great success and urged the public to support the fantastic event. “I thank the sponsors and organisers for their efforts in giving us the opportunity to celebrate all aspects of our timber industry. We should always remember that Knysna would have been a very different place if it weren’t for our forests and its beautiful trees. In fact, if it weren’t for our timber, Knysna might not have been here at all.”

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