Big Ideas sought for the new Stranraer Oyster Festival

Big Ideas sought for the new Stranraer Oyster Festival

Stranraer Development Trust is calling on the “collective brainpower of the people and businesses of Stranraer” to come up with some big ideas to help create a blueprint for the new Stranraer Oyster Festival, which is set to launch in September next year.

Plans for the festival took a significant step forward last week with the appointment of local food and drink expert Liz Ramsay and the formal backing of Tristan Hugh-Jones of Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery Ltd.

Liz, formerly of Dumfries & Galloway’s food organisation Savour the Flavours, is leading a consultation and development project that will create a blueprint for the festival. The consultation launched this week with a community survey which can be accessed online at www.stranraeroysterfestival.com .   Community groups and volunteers are also being consulted over the next month and the development plan is due to be completed shortly thereafter.   The project is supported by The Big Lottery Investing in Ideas programme.

Chairman of Stranraer Development Trust Romano Petrucci said:

“Plans for the Stranraer Oyster Festival are now moving ahead confidently, and I’m delighted that we have the backing of Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery as well as the support of Liz in developing plans for the festival. Liz has an impressive track record in making local food and drink events and activities happen, so the Trust was keen to make use of both her knowledge of food events, and her many contacts in the industry.

“The plan is to create a festival that will involve and inspire our whole town, and which will create a late summer tourism highlight to attract visitors to Stranraer. So we would love as many local people and organisations as possible to contribute their ideas and their suggestions to help shape Stranraer Oyster Festival. We are also keen to hear from people and community groups who are able to volunteer to support the festival.

“The Trust is absolutely committed to making this festival something that will put Stranraer on the food tourism map. I would urge everyone in the town to have their say in how this happens by taking part in the survey.”

Tristan Hugh-Jones of the Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery last week assured the Stranraer Development Trust of the company’s full backing for the festival. Tristan said:

“The idea of an oyster festival for Stranraer has been talked about for quite some time, so we were delighted to see progress start to be made and we will work with the Trust to create oyster-related focal points for the festival.

“One of the things we are keen to do is to raise awareness of just how special the native oyster bed in Loch Ryan is, explain how we manage and protect the bed and, if possible, give local people the opportunity to visit the oyster bed by boat.

“Oyster festivals are of course about much more than just oysters themselves. What has really enthused us about this project is the passion of the people involved to make it a successful annual celebration of Stranraer’s heritage, food production and people, so we are very pleased to give it our full support. “

Liz Ramsay said Stranraer’s unique claim as the home to Scotland’s only wild and native oyster fishery should create an ideal focal point for the event. She commented:

“Food tourism is one of the fastest growing tourism sectors in the UK, and Stranraer’s rich seafood heritage means the town is perfectly placed to capitalise on that growing interest in themed food festivals.

“Oysters are considered a luxury food, but oyster festivals are by no means elitist. Oyster festivals tend to take the oyster as a focal point and then create a celebration of local food, local culture and the local community around it. As Scotland’s only wild and native oyster fishery there is a huge opportunity here for Stranraer to use its unique oyster and coastal heritage to create a festival of national significance.

“I’m delighted to be working with Stranraer Development Trust on this project, and I would urge local people, community groups and local businesses to share their thoughts and ideas with us to help make the Stranraer Oyster Festival a must-visit event.”

The festival survey can be accessed online at www.stranraeroysterfestival.com .

Businesses, organisations and community groups who would like to find out more about the project can contact Romano Petrucci of Stranraer Development Trust at stranraerdevelopmenttrust@gmail.com or they can contact Liz Ramsay at liz@scottishruraldevelopment.co.uk

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