The history of the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival

POSTED IN: Events, General, Oyster Festival
navy boat heads

The Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival is now a very popular attraction – here is how it all started.

To quote the Knysna Oyster Festival website:
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 Pick n Pay Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon and Half Marathon, while the Pick n Pay Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour 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 , the Oyster Eating Competition, the Protea Hotel Knysna Quays Waitron Race 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.

Next time we will look at how the festival benefits Knysna’s disadvantaged communities.