Jeffrey’s Bay is one of the Eastern Cape’s most popular seaside towns. This is for various reasons, not least of all its stunning beaches. Warm white sand, rock pools that are home to a plethora of exciting plant- and animal species, warm water and impressive waves are just some of these beaches’ primary draw cards. However, the shells that litter these shores play a major role in luring visitors back to J-Bay every year.
The Shell Festival is held in the Central Business District (just metres from the ocean) of Jeffrey’s Bay every year, usually in spring (September). It extends over 4 days, giving locals and visitors plenty of time to peruse the stalls and discover some of the natural wonders just metres from their doorsteps. This festival has been held here for over 20 years, and it has become a tradition for many local travellers and families from all over the country to congregate in this small town to celebrate the shell in all its shapes, sizes and uses.
Jeffrey’s Bay beaches boast over 600 types of shells. These range in size from about the size of a pin’s head to well over that of a man’s hand. The colours are also impressive, evoking the imagination of the spectators as well as some well-earned respect. Bright oranges, dull charcoals, and pearly rainbows converge on a palette of marine beauty.
The festival showcases these shells mainly in terms of their functional and decorative beauty. Ornaments, cutlery, pictures, crockery, clothing, hair pieces and jewellery are just some of the ways in which they are used. Such pieces make for fantastic gifts, as well as excellent talking pieces within the home; an apt reminder of one’s visit to J-Bay.
In addition to shells, the festival also offers cultural music, dancing, food and competitions, making for a fun, informative and exciting day for the entire family, young and old. In fact, some 250 stalls are erected, each offering their unique products or services. In previous years, an average of 12 500 people attended each day of the famous Shell Festival.
he Jeffrey's Bay Shell Museum was established with the aim of showcasing the multitudinous numbers and types of shells all through the year. Not only are J-Bay’s shells on display, but also fascinating samples from all over the world. The shells are not the only things that travel vast distances to this museum, though. Shell enthusiasts from all corners of the globe visit this institution to admire and learn about some of South Africa’s most valuable natural treasures. Rare and new species are on display here, and can be seen from Monday to Saturday between 09h00 and 16h00 and on Sundays from 09h00 to 13h00.
Just outside the museum, craftsmen have set up their own shops and stalls for visitors to admire and purchase their shell art.
The 2011 festival takes place from 30th September to 2nd October 2011.
For more information here is the Shell Festival web site: http://shellfest.wordpress.com/