The devastating Knysna fires have claimed the lives of seven people and destroyed residential, business and tourism districts in the Western Cape town, resulting in the evacuation of an estimated 10 000 locals.
Knysna, on the world-renowned Garden Route, boasts scenic stretches of land and hosts much-anticipated yearly events such as the Pick n Pay Oyster Festival, dubbed the “Best 10 Days of Your Winter”, and sporting events like the Momentum Knysna Cycle Tour and the Momentum Knysna Forest Marathon.
Knysna Tourism has confirmed that all three events will still be taking place from Friday, 7 July 2017 to Sunday, 16 July 2017 in a statement released on 10 June by board Chairperson Elmay Bouwer on behalf of the Knysna Municipality, event organisers and sponsors.
“The festival will be a great opportunity for people who want to help our residents to recover from this disaster and we are looking forward to welcoming a record number of people to our beautiful town,” Bouwer said.
“Once all the fires have been extinguished, we will be able to assess the situation to see whether it is necessary to alter any of our routes and plans, and all entrants will be updated by email,” said Marketing Director for the Momentum Knysna Cycle Tour, Andrew Finn. “We are looking forward to a great event.”
In the same statement, Leon Brown, organiser of the Momentum Knysna Forest Marathon, said: “We are dedicating the event to all the people who lost everything in the fires and will be focusing on our blanket drive. We urge people to add to the 2 000 blankets which Momentum donates every year and to also donate clothing which will be collected at registration and at the race start in Glebe, so that it can be distributed to where it is most needed.”
Over R3 million was raised for various charities in the region during the 2016 festival. Furthermore, the event is a source of winter tourism stimulation in a traditionally quiet season. Organisers feel the festival should go ahead as planned, as these factors make for “even better reasons to invite everyone to Knysna this year”.