Celebrating sport and the good life, the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival has established itself over the last 32 years as one of the most popular annual events in the Western Cape.
The first Oyster Festival took place in 1983 and was the brainchild of the late Dick Ginsberg, a local businessman. He and Rose Smith from the then Knysna Publicity Office organised the Knysna Winter Festival, which featured a marathon, rugby, golf, squash, and bowls. The purpose of the festival was to attract people to Knysna during the quiet winter period. The Navy was involved almost from the outset and in 1984 the Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral A P Putter visited Knysna together with a navy minesweeper and a number of crew. In 1988 the Freedom of Entry into the Municipality of Knysna was conferred on the Navy.
In 1985 the cycling races added more sporting events to the programme. Today it is every runner’s dream to complete the famous Momentum Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon and Half Marathon, while the Momentum Weekend Argus Knysna Cycle Tour presented by Rotary has grown to be a two-day cycling festival of mountain and road bike events, the biggest of its kind in South Africa. Oysters are, of course, a huge component of the festival and every year about 200 000 of them are consumed over the 10 days by visitors.
Other favourites of the festival include the Knysna Wine Festival and Night food Market, Pick n Pay Flavours of Knysna served with Tabasco Sauce, the Oyster Shucking and Eating Competition,and the Bowls Tournament. The festival has grown to include a huge charity component and the involvement of the local community, to ensure that everyone in Knysna benefits from the huge boost to the economy that the festival brings every year.