Usually held annually in spring (September/October), the event takes place in a rustic, rural festival village that’s set up for displays and demonstrations, games and conversations – with everyone from tool and timber suppliers to the people who produce seedlings for commercial pine plantations taking part.
The Knysna Timber Festival was founded in 2012 by local woodworkers, and is now run by the Knysna Timber Initiative (KTI: a timber marketing and industry interest group). It’s an annual showcase for local skills and local products (link to Knysna art in various forms) – and it’s also grown into a forum that fosters unity and inclusivity by bringing together people from all levels of the timber value chain: from the chainsaw operators who fell the logs and work the plantations, to the CEOs and managers of the largest corporations within the Garden Route timber economy.
Fun for the whole family
With special emphasis on family entertainment, it’s a showcase that now ranks among the most fun things to do in Knysna and one of the top activities in the Garden Route – for locals and visitors alike.
A timber indaba
Importantly, of course, it’s also a place for Knysna’s top furniture manufacturers, cabinet makers, carpenters, wood turners, wood carvers, wooden home builders, and other craftspeople to learn from one another while showing off their products to customers in both the retail and wholesale markets.
Traditionally, industry representatives get together with government officials on the first day of the festival for a seminar at which important issues such as plantation forestry, conservation forestry, the supply of indigenous timber from the protected Knysna forests, and the control of invasive alien vegetation are typically addressed.
Mindful of the future
Conscious of the needs of the future – and of the rapidly shrinking realities of the present – the KTI uses the Festival as a forum for fostering in young people an interest in wood and woodworking, and also in the trades and professions that support the Knysna timber industry.
The KTI also uses the festival to support initiatives that work to ensure the sustainable supply of materials into the future, as well as innovative reforestation technologies – this last through its nascent Project Reforester: “Our free-range, grass-fed, politics free plan to restore the environment and the economy of the Garden Route.”
Despite all its serious aims and ambitions, everyone – from young children to seasoned industry professionals – enjoys the Knysna Timber Festival first and foremost for its entertainment, which ranges from live music to children’s woodworking activities.
During the festival’s headline entertainment event – TimberSports – seven-person teams from local forestry companies compete on stage in disciplines ranging from chainsaw operations (horizontal speed cutting, felling a vertical log) to axemanship.
Setting a world record
These workers have been known to ramp it up, too: at the 2020 Knysna Timber Festival, more than forty of them attempted to set a Guinness World Record for the largest number of operators to simultaneously start their chainsaws, and then use them to cut through a line of 200 mm logs.
Imagine the ruckus they raised!
- Visit the Knysna Timber Festival online: timberfestival.co.za
- Re. that World Record: at the time of writing (mid-2020), Guiness’ verification process was delayed by the effects of the global pandemic.