Nothing is going to get the Knysna Oyster Festival down
It’s all systems go for the Knysna Oyster Festival in July‚ in spite of the recent devastating fires that wreaked havoc in the region.
This month 10‚000 people were evacuated from their homes as fires ravaged the area. Many were left destitute and seven people lost their lives. Firefighters from around the country managed to bring the inferno under control — giving festival planners the green light for the iconic festival.
According to SANParks‚ preliminary reports show that the iconic Knysna forest‚ where the festival takes place‚ was not affected by the fire. The Knysna Forest spans 60‚500 hectares from George to Tsitsikama and is the country’s largest portion of Southern Afrotemperate Forests. It is a tourist gem with its indigenous trees — some of which are over 600 years old.
“This might just be the best Oyster Festival we have ever had‚” says Knysna Oyster Festival Manager‚ Glendyrr Fick.
“We will use the festival to rebuild Knysna. People pulled together from all communities in Knysna to help each other‚ there is this extra sense of community that you can feel everywhere. People went out of their way to help each other. You could see how this devastation brought everyone together‚” said Fick.
At one stage they considered cancelling the festival which is the “biggest economic injector’’ in the area said Fick.
Meanwhile SANParks indicted that there had been an overwhelming response from volunteers who were willing to help with collating fire damage.
“The team is also getting ready to finalise findings and should hand over maps and a report to the JOC (Joint Organising Committee). This exercise will provide adequate information pertaining to the loss of infrastructure as a result of the devastating Knysna fires from Rheenendal right through to the town of Knysna‚” read a SANParks statement.
SANParks noted in 2015 that Knysna Forest is home to 50 forest and fynbos communities. There are 465 species found in the forest areas alone. These comprise of over 22 species of amphibians‚ 24 reptile species‚ 305 species of birds and 42% of South Africa’s 290 mammal species. More than 7% of the mammals are listed as endangered and 14% are listed as vulnerable.