This year's Knysna Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Arts Festival has been lauded as a huge success by the organisers and public alike.
Our CEO, Greg Vogt is thrilled with the national and international coverage that the festival achieved and stressed that this success could not have been achieved without the amazing support received from businesses across Greater Knysna.
"Our call to dress the Town in Pink was met with enthusiasm and we thank all those businesses who embraced the #PinkFootfwd campaign. We will be taking this campaign to Indaba as well," he said.
We offer a special thank you to all businesses who contributed towards this success by hosting special guests and media. This includes the SABC, Sunday Times, Time Live, CCtv (Chinese Central TV) and various other dignitaries attending our VIP guests, Vernon & Tony Gibbs-Hall.
A massive thank you to;
# Bonnievale Wines
# Lake Pleasant Living
# 47th On Howard
# Villa Castollini
# Wayside Inn
# Turbine Hotel & Spa
# Knysna Hollow
# Paradise Heads
# Knysna River Club
# Pezula Letting
# Lake Pleasant Living
# Protea Hotel Knysna Quays
# Blackwaters River Lodge
# Knysna-Plett Herald
# Edge Community Newspaper
The call to businesses to put their #PinkFootfwd for 365 days a year continues and we encourage LGBTI community members to fly their flags 365 days of the year and business to not be shy to display the LGBTI flag sticker that is available from Knysna & Sedgefield tourism offices.
Pink fever is running high in Knysna as the town prepares for the 16th Knysna Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Pink Loerie Festival (Pink Loerie) from April 27 – May 1.
In celebration of this milestone, the first-ever African mass same-sex wedding will take place on Friday, April 29 at the luxury Villa Castollini that will provide a breath-taking backdrop of Knysna across its world-renown estuary. “This event promises to be a spectacular affair,” said Pink Loerie coordinator, John-Louis O’Neil and added: “Our couples have been chosen and now all they need to do is pitch up with ten of their family and friends at the most beautiful venue for the wedding reception to top all wedding receptions!”
This year marks the 20 years since the approval of the South African Constitution, the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. It further celebrates the decade in which same-sex marriages has been legalised in South Africa, the only country in Africa.
To add to the significance of all these milestones the first South African LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) couple to legally wed in South Africa, Vernon and Tony Gibbs-Hall will be joining in the mass-wedding ceremony to renew their vows in celebration of their tenth wedding anniversary.
O’Neil expresses his delight at having the Gibbs-Hall couple join in the celebrations. “We as the LGBTI community have fought long and hard to be recognised. Having same-sex marriages legalised in South Africa finally had the country recognise that marriage equality exists for all its citizen is definite cause for celebration and we could not be more pleased that Vernon and Tony have agreed to celebrate their love for each other with us.”
Last year Knysna hosted the prestigious Mr Gay World during the festival and Greg Vogt, Knysna & Partners CEO is delighted that this year’s festival will host another first. “Not only will we be hosting the first mass same-sex wedding in South Africa, but the first in Africa,” he said.
“One of the greatest things about our area is its people and their ease with which they embrace people from different nationalities, cultures, creeds and race. Having the first African LGBTI mass-wedding taking place in our beautiful area just once again proves how we work together to create shared values in a place that so many have chosen to now call home.”
Following the legalities, Knysna’s executive mayor, Georlene Wolmarans will officiate over the unique ceremony. “I am confident that the couples will enjoy each and every moment of the ceremony at our beautiful venue,” said Wolmarans.
In closing O’Neil reiterated: “As we celebrate 16 years of making a mark on the LGBTI community and the ten years of legalising same-sex marriage in our country, we felt it only appropriate to highlight one of the most appreciated and sought-after rights; the right to marriage equality.
“So unpack your feathers, your glitz and your glamour and join us in celebrating or our rights during this year’s Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Arts Festival and of course this wonderful event.”
About the Pink Loerie
Now in its 16th year, the Pink Loerie Mardi gras & Arts Festival is an annual celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) culture and identity and is proudly hosted in the picturesque town of Knysna. The festival hosts a series of cultural, entertainment and fundraising events.
Knysna, a South African town on the Garden Route in the Western Cape embraces and recognises its natural environment with its recently launched Naturally Knysna brand.
It possibly derived its name from the Kohikhoi word meaning ferns and lies 34 degrees South of the Equator and has approximately 60 000 inhabitants.
The town, with its moderate climate, is a popular destination for both national and international tourists, golfers and extreme sports enthusiasts. Knysna is further well-known for its magnificent estuary, natural forests and surrounding lakes.
For further information on the Knysna Tourism visit www.visitknysna.co.za, or call 044 382 5510
By now businesses in Knysna should have been paid a visit from the Pink Loerie team dropping off a Pink Loerie Festival poster for display. By decorating Knysna's shops / entities in Pink, and/or the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Intersex) colours, as well as displaying the Pink Loerie poster, businesses are automatically entered in this competition.
As thousands of visitors’ start to stream into our town for the annual Pink Loerie Festival we would like to ensure that all businesses receive their share of the economic benefit from this influx. By dressing your business in Pink you are in essence acting as a beacon for festival revellers, inviting them to spend their hard-earned cash with LGBTI friendly establishments.
Besides attracting the LGBTI spend, decorated businesses also stand the chance to win the first prize of R1 000 cash, a half-page advert in the local Knysna-Plett Herald and a beautiful trophy (similar to the Knysna Sanlam Award Trophies).
The results of the Dress the Town Pink competition will be made known on Tuesday, May 2.
Thank you for turning our town Pink and I wish you great economic success during this festival.
Dress the Town Pink rules
1) Display a Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Arts Festival poster in your entity’s window
2) Dress your business pink
3) Take a photograph of your ‘Pink’ business
4) Ensure that you have “liked” the Pink Loerie https://www.facebook.com/PinkLoerie/?fref=ts and the VisitKnysna Facebook pages https://www.facebook.com/visitknysna/?fref=ts
5) Upload photograph on both pages using the #DressTownPink (Don’t forget to tag yourself in the photograph)
6) Okay, so far so good. Now direct your friends, family and customers to your post on the Pink Loerie and Visit Knysna Facebook pages and get them to “like” your entry. (This must be down on those to pages, likes on other pages do not count)
7) Tweets featuring the Pink Business photograph and the #PinkFootFwd hashtag will also be taken into consideration.
8) Tweets, retweets using the #PinkFootFwd and likes on the VisitKnysna and Pink Loerie Facebook pages will count when the winners are to be decided upon.
9) Now sit back and look pretty. The judges will be visiting participating stores throughout the festival that have received likes on the social pages. These independent judges will then judge the establishment according to predetermined criteria.
The plumes have barely been packed away in Knysna after hosting Mr Gay World™ 2015 and it has just been announced that the town can look forward to having the South African representative to Mr Gay World™ 2017 chosen during Mr Mardi Gras South Africa 2016. This competition forms part of the ever popular Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Arts Festival hosted in Knysna for the past 15 year.
A brand new partnership between, Mr Gay World™ and the license holders for South Africa, Grab Corporations (Pty) Ltd, Mr Mardi Gras South Africa and Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Arts Festival Southern Africa will now see the winner of the Mr Mardi Gras South Africa Competition representing SA at Mr Gay World™ in future.
“After a very successful meeting with all parties involve, a positive outcome was achieved and Oelof de Meyer, Mr Mardi Gras Class of 2013, will be representing South Africa at Mr Gay World™ 2016 in Malta from April 19 – 23,” said an excited Pink Loerie organiser, John-Louis O’Neil.
He added that Grab Corporations, a young and upcoming company that covers all aspects of the fashion industry is a perfect fit for the Mr Gay World™ license. “It has been a long-time dream for the owners of Grab Corporations to create a one-stop platform for all who show an interest in the model and fashion industry. What better way than to be the official SA licence holders for the Mr Gay World™.”
Grab Corporations owners, Vernondo Boshoff and his partner of 16 years, Louis Douglas bring a wealth of experience to the table. The duos involvement in fashion, runway, corporate and commercial photography, gives them the perfect background to spot a winner when they see one. “My greatest talents are the ability to mix with any person and to get nervous subjects to relax in front of the camera. This way I really get to see the real person behind the persona. This skill is definitely one that will come in useful while looking for the best South African LGBTI [Lesbian, Gay Bi-sexual, Transsexual and Intergender] delegate to send to Mr Gay World™,” said Boshoff.
Douglas feels strongly that the words “Beauty Pageant” must no longer be associated with Mr Mardi Gras South Africa. “The winner will not only be judged on his looks and physique, but more importantly his ability to become a relevant ambassador for all LGBTIs and a crusader of their rights across the world,” said Douglas.
The Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Arts Festival kicks off in Knysna on April 27 until May 1. “This year we celebrate our 16th birthday so festival participants can expect the unexpected,” smiled O’Neil.
Mr Mardi Gras South Africa will take place on April 29 at the Knysna Mall Exhibition Area, the same venue that hosted the glitzy Mr Gay World™ 2015 and will co-inside with Miss Mardi Gras 2016 and Madame Wigstock 2016 to ensure a great event and evening.
Coenie Kukkuk, Mr. Gay World™ Director for Africa and the Middle East said: “We know the organisers of the local event as well as their chosen delegate well and are pleased with the results. They bring years of experience to the event and this can only be an asset for the region at the Mr. Gay World™ finals in Malta in April 2016”.
Eric Butter from Australia, President of Mr Gay World™ said in Sydney: “On behalf of the MR GAY WORLD™ Organisation, we bid a warm welcome to Oelof de Meyer, the Mr Mardi Gras South Africa Delegate, to Malta, our 8th edition. We‘ve had a remarkable year.
Our annual event gives us a chance to get together, create a safe and fun environment to share our stories. This will inspire us and will unite us in our life experience. Also, we come together to create a platform to celebrate that we all have an important role in our community. We can all influence on justice, acceptance and tolerance, in doing so we can all make our world a better and more colourful place.
To all the contestants entering this year, good luck! Let us all celebrate our accomplishments!”
Knysna & Partners (previously Knysna Tourism) CEO Greg Vogt congratulated the new licence holders and said: "Knysna has become known for its welcoming attitude towards diversity and are thrilled to have the deciding event for the South African Mr Gay World delegate chosen right here in our town. This sends out a clear message to the world that Knysna is the Pink Town of South Africa's. Congratulations to Grab Corporation and Pink Loerie organisers for obtaining the licence."
Vogt’s excitement was echoed by Knysna Executive Mayor Georlene Wolmarans. “We are pleased that Mr Mardi Gras will represent South Africa in Mr Gay World 2016. This is wonderful news for Knysna and will create more excitement for this year’s Pink Loerie. I am confident that Oelof de Meyer will make us proud and bring home the title.”