Record crowds are turning out for Stranraer Oyster Festival with more than 20,000 people expected at the three day event in south west Scotland that celebrates the wild, native oysters of Loch Ryan.
The packed programme includes demos from celebrity chefs Michael Caines, Julie Lin, Tony Singh and Felicity Cloake and runs till Sunday evening. The festival coincides with the start of the native oyster season, which runs from September till April.
Romano Petrucci, Chair of Stranraer Development Trust, the community organisation that runs the festival, said:
“In a very short period of time Stranraer Oyster Festival has become a hugely important part of Stranraer’s identity, and a real focal point for celebrating the very best the area has to offer. No one should ever doubt our community’s ability to create, produce and deliver the very best, and the very best is what we will always seek to deliver.”
Speaking at the festival Chef Michael Caines said:
“It’s my first time here at Stranraer for the oyster festival, it’s a huge festival and that it’s community led is really important.
“There’s wonderful chef demonstrations, local producers and oysters at the centre of it – the location is absolutely stunning because it is all about these native oysters.
“The festival really is starting to get momentum and put Stranraer on the map, it’s such a great community spirit here and I’m loving being part of it.”
This year Stranraer Oyster Festival has also committed to lowering its environmental impact. Festival organisers have pledged to return the shell of every one of the 10,000 oysters set to be consumed at the festival back to Loch Ryan to help efforts to grow the wild, native oyster bed. Native oysters are ecosystem superheroes, creating marine habitat and boosting biodiversity. Over the last 30 years Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery has grown the oyster bed from 1 million to 60 million oysters, and they hope to hit 100 million by 2040.
Stranraer Oyster Festival is supported through Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Major Events Strategic Fund and Coastal Benefit Fund, and EventScotland’s National Events Funding Programme. The work of Stranraer Development Trust is also supported by Kilgallioch Community Fund and South of Scotland Enterprise are supporting the long-term sustainability of the festival.
More information can be found at www.stranraeroysterfestival.com
- The UK’s native oyster season runs from 1st September till end of April
- Loch Ryan oysters have been protected by a Royal Charter since 1701. Sustainable management of the bed sees 95% of each catch being returned to the water, in densely laid beds to maximise fertility.
- Stranraer Oyster Festival takes place on 15-17th September and sees oyster fans from across the UK visiting Stranraer to enjoy Loch Ryan native oysters.
- The Festival was launched in 2017 by Stranraer Development Trust to mitigate the damaging economic impact of the main Northern Ireland ferry port moving from Stranraer to nearby Cairnryan in 2011.
- The Festival is credited with ‘changing the story of Stranraer’ from one of economic decline, to one of tourism opportunity.
- Independent economic analysis has demonstrated that the festival has generated almost £5 million for the local economy so far, supporting hundreds of jobs, showcasing multiple local businesses and organisations, providing volunteering and training opportunities for members of the community, and stimulating tourism development in the area.