Wood workers, artisans, members of the timber industry, and local and national businesses agree: the third Knysna Timber Festival, which took place from 11-13 November, was an unqualified success.
The Outeniqua FatStix fat bike immediately after it was assembled at the Knysna Timber Festival. The event was created by the Knysna Timber Initiative to revive interest in the timber economy of the Garden Route, which has suffered the closure of numerous saw mills, plantations, and factories – and the resultant loss of thousands of jobs – over the last two decades.
“There was an incredible atmosphere throughout the event – and it’s clear that everyone’s willing to work together to preserve our timber heritage, and to grow the industry in the future,” said the Knysna Timber Initiative’s Jock McConnachie.
WOODEN BIKE & SKILLS TRAINING
A project by the hackers at the Kluyts MakerSpace to build a wooden bicycle and to assemble it in front of Festival-goers in the exhibition tent attracted particular attention.
“None of us had any experience of building bikes, but we did it to highlight the depth of the skills and the talent available here in Knysna,” said project leader John Noble.
“And it turned out to be a great a draw-card for the Festival.”
The Festival also included an up-skilling workshop for local woodworkers.
Conducted by master furniture-maker Richard Henley, and presented with the support of Rotary, Kluyts, and the Knysna Municipality, the 7-day course was timed to end on the last day of the Festival.
“Properly used at the right times, hand tools are often more flexible and faster than machine tools, and this course was designed to show that the use of hand tools isn’t just a romantic idea,” said Mr. Henley.
“The guys saw the course as an opportunity, and they threw themselves into it. One of them was promoted by the factory where he works – from packing recycling materials the previous week, to a semi-skilled position this week.
“And two of them were talking about becoming self-employed in the near future.”
Chloe Bunnett of Tool & Trade, Knysna, was equally up-beat.
Tool & Trade demonstrated the latest thinking in tools and techniques in conjunction with Vermont Sales, which supplies Tork Craft tools and accessories for hobbyists, and the Bexey and Kreg ranges for professionals.
“This is a brilliant way of promoting woodworking and timber, and of showing people what we do – and we’ve had very positive feedback, both during the show and afterwards.
“It’s a great initiative, and we look forward growing with it.”
The Festival was sponsored by Woodoc Food for Wood and Saplings Timber Trading, and was presented with the assistance of G&K Quality Timber Mouldings, Tradelink Wood Products, Knysna & Partners, and the Knysna Municipality.
In an email addressed to Festival coordinator Picca de Bruin, Woodoc’s marketing coordinator, Delray Turner, congratulated the Festival committee on “your fine work, excellent planning and realistic scheduling,” which “resulted in an informative and smooth-running festival.”
“A special thank you to Jock for his wonderful dedication to this event. His enthusiasm, encouragement and vision for reviving and restoring a love for wood is inspiring.”
Knysna & Partners CEO, Greg Vogt, congratulated all participants on the results of the Festival.
“It marked the beginning of a new era for timber, plantation forestry, and conservation forestry in the Southern Cape.
“It showed that there’s enormous goodwill, and a common desire to ensure a prosperous future for the region.
“And since many aspects of the timber economy – from the Garden Route National Park to our fine furniture factories – are also integral to our success as a tourism destination, it bodes well for a sustainable future for our hospitality sector and for our attractions,” he said.
Saplings Timber Trading: www.saplings.co.za
G&K Quality Timber Mouldings www.gandkmouldings.co.za
Tradelink Wood Products
Knysna Timber Festival: www.timberfestival.co.za – THEGREMLIN