Chef Nick Nairn, a world record breaking bubbleologist, a seafood street food celebration, extreme pond dipping and Scotland’s national Shuck-Off have been announced as some of the highlights of the second Stranraer Oyster Festival.
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Stranraer Oyster Festival is designed around celebrating Scotland’s last remaining wild, native oyster fishery, which lies in Loch Ryan, the sea loch Stranraer sits at the apex of. The native oyster was once widespread around Scotland and much of the UK but has been harvested to near extinction which means almost all other oysters for sale in the UK come from oyster farms.
The full programme of events was revealed today and the eclectic line up combines a local seafood themed food festival with family fun as Stranraer Oyster Festival embraces Scotland’s Year of Young People.
Romano Petrucci, Chair of Stranraer Development Trust, the organisation that runs the festival, said:
“Following on from the incredible success of our inaugural Festival last September, we have all approached this year’s event with a confidence and determination to create something even bigger and better.
“Our festival has always been about the future of our town, creating opportunities for young people to become involved in developing and delivering a world-class seafood festival, so during this Year of Young People we have increased the family fun and created a packed programme of events and experiences for young people.
“While the focus of the festival will always be our unique wild, native oysters, this year we are also celebrating the wider bounty of local seafood that is caught in our local waters – smoked salmon, lobster and fish as well as our local oysters. We will have local seafood showcased in every demonstration and talk, our seafood celebration marquee will be bursting with a huge variety of street food options and the Scottish Oyster Shucking Championship returns courtesy of Seafood from Scotland.”
The festival, which takes place from 14th to 16th September, marks the start of the oyster harvesting season and will commence with an oyster landing ceremony, complete with oysters being piped ashore, seafood street food (plus non-seafood options), live music and fireworks. Festivities over the weekend will continue with oyster tasting, talks and competitions, cooking demonstrations, extreme pond dipping (dredge from the floor of Loch Ryan), a huge makers market packed with locally produced food, drink, arts and crafts. There will also be ghost walks, children’s craft activities and a return of The Big Oyster Bash, hosted on a curling ice rink in a local hotel.
The festival attracts widespread volunteering support from the local community and generous sponsorship from local businesses, keen to support the event that seeks to raise awareness of Stranraer and the surrounding area as a tourism destination.
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said:
“We are delighted to be supporting the Stranraer Oyster Festival for the first time, through our National Events Programme. The Festival team has developed a fantastic programme of events, showcasing the region’s rich heritage, local seafood and home-grown produce. It is also great to see the festival embracing Scotland’s Year of Young People with a variety of activities on offer for young people to enjoy and get involved in.”
Councillor Adam Wilson, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Events Champion said:
“Stranraer has become a top destination for seafood lovers. The Oyster Festival has very quickly established itself within Dumfries and Galloway and Scotland as an important food festival to promote our wonderful produce and show off picturesque Loch Ryan. The Council is committed to working with the people of Stranraer to promote the Oyster Festival and support the town’s regeneration.”
The festival also has the backing of The Holywood Trust; a charity that helps young people fulfil their potential in cultural, educational and social aspects of their lives. Helen Turner of the Holywood Trust said:
“This is again a great opportunity for local young people to contribute to this major event and to be at the heart of its delivery. In the Year of Young People it’s great to see them grasping this opportunity with both hands. We hope that young people from across the South West of Scotland will come along and enjoy this unique festival.”
Stranraer Oyster Festival takes place from Friday 14th to Sunday 16th September 2018 inclusive. Full programme information and ticketing details are on www.stranraeroysterfestival.com .
Summary of Programme Highlights
The Seafood Celebration Marquee, funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the Scottish Government, will celebrate local seafood with a tempting array of seafood street food. Chef demonstrations, including from Nick Nairn, will be taking place throughout the weekend with chefs focussing heavily on creating inspirational seafood themed menus and dishes. The huge Makers Market will include more than twenty artisan food producers selling everything from locally smoked wild salmon to award winning local gin distilled with locally foraged botanicals, alongside a wide selection of locally produced crafts.
For Oyster Fans
The Shuck Off is a must see for anyone with an interest in oysters. As well as the thrill of the fast paced competition, spectators will be treated to entertaining demonstrations, information and tastings with expert Shucker Paddy. Tristan Hugh-Jones of Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery, winner of last year’s Shuck Off, will be leading a talk all about oysters, as well as offering oyster and champagne experiences throughout the weekend. For those with a tough stomach and a competitive spirit, there’s also an oyster eating competition.
Samsam Bubbleman is the headline children’s entertainer but the whole weekend is filled with family fun and children’s activities. There’s action packed performances from Road Runner and Popdance, and the Children’s Marquee will provide family friendly activities throughout the weekend; from circus skills and storytelling to oyster shell crafts and kite making.
For Young People
The festival isn’t just for children, young people are encouraged to join in both through taking part in volunteering and by enjoying some activities and experiences. The silent disco, with LED headphones is set to create spectacle and quirky fun, and the Pop Up Beauty Salon and Bubble Football are expected to be busy. Young people can also take a walk on the darker side of Stranraer by joining one of the ghost walks around St John’s Castle.