The success of the fifth Knysna Timber Festival - held at Timber Village over the weekend of 5-7 October, 2018 - was a powerful demonstration of the Garden Route’s resilience in the aftermath of last year’s devastating fires, which seriously affected the timber value chain.
Morne Smith, chairperson of the Knysna Timber Initiative (which owns and organises the event), said that the Festival attracted 3,000 visitors - consumers as well as members of the various sectors of the timber industry.
“Exhibitors I spoke to expressed their satisfaction with the networking opportunities that the Festival offered, the sales they made from their stands, and the fact that they experienced the festival as a well-organised event that’s maturing into an important part of their marketing campaigns,” he said.
WALL OF REMEMBRANCE
The Festival saw the unveiling of a Wall of Remembrance to honour the nine people who lost their lives, those who lost their possessions, and those who rallied together to help the community of the Garden Route during and after the Knysna Fires of 2017.
Speaking at the ceremony, Executive Deputy Mayor, Councillor Ricky van Aswegen, noted that “the kindness with which we all treated each other during and after the catastrophe.”
Mr. Smith said that the Festival’s skills development workshop (hosted by the Knysna Municipality and the Knysna Timber Initiative with support from Wesgro - the Western Cape Province’s tourism, trade, and investment promotion organisation) attracted players from across the timber value chain.
“It was a very valuable morning of discussion that provided clarity on the way forward for training and skills development in the timber industry and related sectors,” he said.
“This is significant because skills are the foundation for the entire timber economy.”
Mr. Smith said that this year’s Festival attracted local and national exhibitors. The Masters and Makers exhibition - which was a fringe event, which ran for the first time this year - was very well attended, and provided a platform for the highly-skilled artists and craftspeople of the Garden Route. And the general exhibition area in the Festival village once again provided an immensely useful platform for networking, sales and marketing - and it yielded some unexpected businesses, too,” he said.
One such was blacksmith Keagon West of Metal Machine Forge, near Rondevlei.
“Although my business isn’t directly involved in the timber industry, the Festival was great because I met a lot of new people and learned a lot about the timbers that I use in my hand-forged knives and axes,” he said.
“But I’m also passionate about training and education, and I plan to set up apprenticeships to teach people how to make and use hand tools, how to do general steelwork, and so on - and these are skills that the timber industry needs.”
Mr. Smith said that the KTI will announce the final date for next year’s Festival shortly. “Provisionally, though, we expect it’ll be on the second weekend of the September school holidays.”
Please watch the press and www.timberfestival.co.za for details.