Skateboarders to Ramp it up at Knysna Oyster Festival

Words: Theresa Lozier | Photos: Theresa Lozier & Steve van Lier

For a new twist on rock 'n roll, The Yard in Knysna - an indoor skate, BMX, scooter, and rollerblade venue - is hosting Element-sponsored team riders during the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival, complete with their own pro half-pipe.

Skateboarders to Ramp it up at Knysna Oyster Festival

Damon De Clercq, Giovanni Votano, and Clint Theron are all world-renowned skaters and will be joining in the festival's 30th anniversary festivities with a demonstration of some serious skill at the Festival Pavilion on 5 July from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. These Element Team riders will ramp it up with a demo on the half-pipe, and after that they’ll head over to The Yard in Knysna's Industrial Area for the official Element Night Jam from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. There the party will continue with more tricks, autographs, and some pretty sweet prizes for participants, like Element skateboard wheels, T-shirts, hoodies, caps, shoes, and more.

The Team riders' afternoon demo is free to watch, while entrance to the Night Jam is just R25 per person, including entrance to the competition. During the festival, you can also head down to The Yard, which is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (except Sundays, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.) and skate all day for only R25. Alternatively, you can try your luck when the half pipe is free at the Festival Pavilion throughout the day and during the week.

Festival Manager Nicci Rousseau Schmidt explains, “It’s all part of the festival’s focus to bring in new and exciting events that appeal to people of all ages and interests. The Yard has organised some of the world’s most talented skateboarders to come to Knysna and we’re only too pleased to have them as part of the schedule.”

Brothers Steve and Ivan Van Lier founded Knysna's only skate venue in 2009. Steve explains, "We sold our family business in the building industry in 2007. The Yard was an idea that developed with two things in mind. First, the tough economic conditions that seem to hit the smaller towns harder than the big cities. Second, Ivan's sons', Mathew and Troy, love for skateboarding and rollerblading. So on the one side, Ivan was driving through to the only park on the Garden Route in George for his kids to practice their tricks, and on the other side we had an empty warehouse in the industrial area just begging for something … so bam! It was to be a skate and BMX park."

Steve continues, "The park was designed and built by Roscoe Siebers, an experienced BMX rider from Port Elizabeth , who has ridden in many parts of the world. The park is open daily from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m., and offers 500 m² of indoor skating, as well as 600 m² of outdoor plaza. We have a fully-stocked shop offering all the associated clothing, with brands like DC, Planb, and other skate-related brands to choose from. We also have all the spares and complete boards any skater could dream of under one roof, as well as BMX, scooters, and safety equipment available for hire. For the hungry and thirsty, we also cater from our in-house tuck shop.

"The park is a safe environment for kids to be dropped at, as there's always adult supervision. And at R25 for the whole day, it’s a bargain. Plus, we offer a Toppies evening on alternate Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. for the oldies who want to skate without kids coming past at 100 mph, which has broken all expectations on attendance! The quality of skaters coming is just amazing - who would have thought the moms and dads would want to get back onto their skateboards and not only skate, but do tricks that outdo the kids!"

Festival programme new highlights:

The programme for the 2013 Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival is growing with new and exciting events joining the stable of old favourites. “Last year’s programme sported more than 100 events,” said Festival Manager Nicci Rousseau-Schmidt. “And it is already clear that we’ll top that number this year.”

The Pick n Pay Women’s Walk will take place on Sunday, 7 July. Pick n Pay's Marketing Director, Bronwen Rohland, said, “This 5 km event raises funds for PinkDrive, an organisation that provides free breast cancer screening and health education for women who cannot afford it.”

The Young Oyster Festival is gaining in popularity each year, providing an environment for kids to have a blast. Aside from the regular events such as cooking lessons, arts and crafts, movie screenings, sport clinics, and exciting competitions, this year will see a dedicated Kids Zone complete with popcorn, candy floss, and all things necessary for exciting and entertaining kids.

Skateboarders to Ramp it up at Knysna Oyster Festival

“Older kids will enjoy an all-new fun fair, as well as obstacle courses and exciting events and competitions at The Yard, our local skate park,” Rousseau-Schmidt said. “This age group and their parents will also enjoy an all new ten-day local food and craft market at the main venue on Waterfront Drive and details of how to enter the Miss Knysna Oyster Festival will be available soon.

“Of course we wouldn’t have a festival if it weren’t for our oysters. This year’s Pick n Pay Flavours of Knysna will truly showcase Knysna’s restaurants as they once again prepare oysters according to their own, unique recipes, with other delectable treats prepared by Pick n Pay also available on the evening. The oyster shucking and oyster eating competitions are always very entertaining and well attended, and this year we will combine these two fun events to both take place at the main venue on Waterfront Drive.”

The festival has a long-standing relationship with the South African Navy, especially the local Sea Cadet unit from the Training Ship Knysna. The Admiral’s Ball is a firm favourite on the festival’s calendar, with music provided by the incredibly talented SA Navy Dance Band. Presented in co-operation with the Knysna Featherbed Company, the 2013 ball promises to be an event not to be missed. Says Rousseau-Schmidt, “We are hoping to welcome two naval ships through the Knysna Heads this year – weather permitting. The Navy also presents other fantastic events on the festival calendar, including the Right of Entry Parade, which incorporates precision drilling and music from the marching band, displays by the Knysna Sea Cadets and the ever popular concert by the SA Navy Band, which unofficially closes the festival."

“This year, both the Knysna Forest Marathon and Half Marathon have already sold out, and we anticipate that Knysna will be buzzing with excitement,” said Rohland.

Rousseau-Schmidt concluded, “We are looking forward to old favourites such the Pick n Pay Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour and the Pick n Pay Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon and Half Marathon, but we have many exciting developments on the programme to look forward to. And what you’ve read about here is only a taste of what the 2013 Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival has on offer. Knysna is truly the place to be during the school holidays. So come along – I can guarantee that you’ll have the best ten days of your winter.”

Skating programme:

05 July 2-4 p.m.
Element rider's half-pipe demo at the Festival Pavilion, Waterfront Drive, FREE

05 July 5-10 p.m.
Join in the fun at the Element Night Jam at The Yard, 5 Progress Street, Knysna Industrial Area, R25 per person, including entrance to the competition

Skate all day at The Yard, 5 Progress Street,
Knysna Industrial Area for R25


For more information about the festival, visit or check out the Festival app for mobile news and on-the-go information. To get it, go to Google Play or Apple iTunes or simply scan the barcode on the festival website.

For more information about The Yard or the Element Team Riders Demo and Night Jam, find them on Facebook