Knysna calls hedonists, health nuts

[caption id="attachment_38368" align="alignright" width="405"] PERFECT SETTING: The beautiful view over the Knysna Lagoon is merely one of the delights the town has to offer during the Knysna Oyster Festival[/caption]

HEALTH nuts and hedonists do not normally make for happy bedfellows, but over the school holidays both will descend upon the sleepy town of Knysna to indulge in a sport and lifestyle festival that has firmly positioned the town as the place to be in July.

From cultivated to wild, more than 100000 oysters will be shucked and slurped at the 31st annual Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival taking place from July 4 to 13.

Nestled on the banks of the beautiful Knysna Estuary and surrounded by indigenous forest, the Outeniqua Mountains and a rugged coastline, Knysna is always a good bet for a holiday and for those wanting to pack in as much as possible, the festival provides the perfect opportunity.

With more than 60000 people descending on Knysna, festival manager Nicci Rousseau-Schmidt said it is important to cater to revellers and sports enthusiasts alike.

"With more than 100 events each year, we strive to present a diverse programme that offers something for everyone – whether you're attending the festival as a family, a foodie, or to participate in one of our many sports competitions.

"This year we will see the re-introduction of past favourites like the fun fair on George Rex Drive, as well as the market place stalls, incorporated into the Knysna Grainmill Organic Market on the corner of Long Street and Waterfront Drive.

"We've also planned a number of improvements to our most popular events – such as the Pick n Pay Flavours of Knysna gourmet evening, and the Big5 Sport Challenge, which for the first time will include a Big 5 Yellow Jersey Ceremony for each event, as well as a final awards ceremony where all finishers will be honoured.

"We've added the Big 5 LITE, which opens up the playing field for athletes who want to compete in a multi-disciplinary competition across shorter distances."

Rousseau-Schmidt said it's also important that festival goers have the opportunity to sample oysters prepared in many different styles at an affordable price.

To this end, a number of designated "Tabasco Oyster Hotspots" have been identified with popular restaurants such as 34 Degrees South, Quay4 and the Knysna Arms some of the options.

The biggest of its kind in Africa, the festival is anchored by a number of sporting events, with the Big 5 Sport Challenge and The Momentum Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour the most popular.

According to Rousseau-Schmidt, even the tiniest tots have something to look forward to this year with The Young Oyster Festival aimed at entertaining children aged two to 12 with cooking lessons, arts and crafts, face-painting, movie screenings, puppet shows, children's theatre, sport clinics and exciting competitions.

An expanded programme for teens has been introduced with a Junior Golf Tournament, a Teens Triathlon and the Junior Sit-On Canoe Relay now on the cards. - Angela Daniels