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Article written by: Martin Hatchuel CPRP

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The timber economy of the Garden Route is once again on the rise despite the devastation caused by the recent fires – and much of the impetus for this comes from the fact that people in the industry have begun to work together.

“There's a very positive energy in the industry these days, and we see the Timber Festival as a catalyst for this revival. It’s played a very valuable role in bringing people together,” said Jock McConnachie of Timber Village and the Knysna Timber Initiative, which owns the Festival.

“Timber is the Garden Route’s golden egg - and we need to protect and nurture it, and to grow the industry surrounding it,” he said.

“For this to happen, we need to protect and grow our pool of local talent - and to do that we need to introduce young people to timber.

“The Festival is one of the ways we can this,” he said.

“In the end, the more timber businesses we have in the area, the more woodcraft there is, the more we’re all going to benefit.

“Dalena Wolarans, who’ll be speaking at the Festival, talks about the Knysna forests as being our own Eiffel Tower - the unique asset that sets Knysna apart from the rest of the world as a tourism destination.

“We have to capitalise on this because people travel now for experiences: they're wanting to actually see the forests, and to see how the wood is being transformed into beautiful items.

“And that’s another reason why the Festival’s going ahead – because timber gets into everything we do here in the Garden Route.”

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Festival manager Picca de Bruin recognised the support that the Festival has received from Wesgro (the Western Cape Province’s tourism, trade and investment promotion agency), and from the Knysna’s Municipality’s local economic development department and its manager, Ilse van Schalkwyk.

“Both Wesgro and the Municipality have recognised the Festival as a key catalyts for the revival of the timber industry in our area, and for the opportunities it presents in skills development, for promoting investment, and for encouraging the growth of SMMEs through networking opportunities,” she said.

CELEBRITY CHEF

“But besides all of that, the Festival is also an opportunity for the whole family to have a good time,- which is why we’re excited to announce that local Green Chef Melven Mene of Usatsho Tshisanyama & Catering, the winner of the Flavours of Knysna competition at the 2017 Knysna Oyster Festival, will be serving his tasty cuisine at the Festival grounds – alongside our old Friends, Epilepsy SA, who’ll be making their popular pannekoek as usual,” said Ms. De Bruin.

She said the event – at Timber Village in Welbedacht Lane – will feature talks and product and techniques demonstrations.

“But we also want to involve and offer the Festival to the community, so we’ve worked very hard at getting artisans and craftspeople – like artist Lyn Beaton with her wooden marionettes – and at creating opportunities for children’s entertainment, like a build-your-own-planter box project with Fechters, which you can decorate with gels supplied by Woodoc Food for Wood, and plant with trees supplied by Ezigro Karata Nurseries.

“We’ll also have a play area - and for the adults, a bar with music by DJ Mr. G, and acoustic folk and country music by local band Southern Sons.”

The Festival’s speaker programme will include talks about timber and its applications, as well as its influence on art and culture.

FESTIVAL INFO

The Knysna Timber Festival will take place at Timber Village in Welbedacht Lane, from 29 September to 1 October. Entrance is free.

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The Knysna Timber Festival is proud to be associated with the following supportive organisations.

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