Autumn Events Generate £6 Million For Local Economy

A series of festivals and events in Dumfries and Galloway generated more than £6m for the local and Scottish economy in late 2018.

The analysis from Dumfries and Galloway Council shows that the 20thannual Wigtown Book Festival had an economic impact of £3.75m, the Electric Fields music festival £1.45m, the Stranraer Oyster Festival up to £1.1m and the Galloway Hills Rally £120,000.

The rural Scottish region is now gearing up for a bumper year of cultural tourism, international arts festivals and major sports events.

The events covered in the analysis are all funded by the council as part of its Major Events and Festivals Strategy 2018-2021.

Councillor Adam Wilson, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Major Events Champion, said:The variety of events and the enthusiasm of the teams behind them is extraordinary – together they offer a foretaste of what we have to come in 2019.
“The oyster festival is just two years old and has already grown into a superb event with the potential to help regenerate Stranraer in the same way that the book festival has supported the economy of Wigtown over the last 20 years.
“Electric Fields is also going from strength to strength, with a superb line-up of performers and attracted more than 8,000 people to Drumlanrig last year. And the Galloway Hills Rally is absolutely thriving.
“Dumfries and Galloway’s is increasingly marking itself out as a region of high quality events and festivals and a superb place to visit for anyone who loves great food, literature, music and sport.”

These successful events, all in September, took place in the same year that saw the opening of the new £3.2m Kirkcudbright Galleries, which are home to the magnificent Kirkcudbright Artists’ Collection which includes works by the likes of John Faed, Edward Atkinson Hornel, Jessie Marion King and Samuel John Peploe.

In 2019 Dumfries and Galloway will have more attractions than ever. The year will kick off with the Big Burns Supper festival, followed by the opening of the new National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling at Moat Brae House, Dumfries, in the spring.

In May and June there will be Spring Fling, Scotland’s premier open studios contemporary visual art and craft weekend, the 10-day Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival (celebrating its 40thyear), the Scottish Rally and the Eden Festival.

Electric Fields will be moving to an earlier date, taking place at Drumlanrig Castle from 4 to 6 July, 2019.

Alex Roberts, Director of Electric Fields,said:In 2018 we enjoyed our most successful year with our biggest capacity to date, but still maintained a special family-friendly atmosphere. To have the legendary Noel Gallagher perform at Drumlanrig Castle was a completely surreal experience and relished by all. 
“As part of our ever-growing event, the funding we receive from Dumfries and Galloway Council is invaluable. They share our vision and passion to evolve the D&G festival, tourism and economic scene. 
“We really feel Electric Fields is an event D&G deserves and the local feedback has been extremely encouraging. To bring attract such names as Noel Gallagher, James, Primal Scream and Dizzee Rascal is a real coup for the festival and the region.”

The Galloway Hills Rally is jointly run by Solway, Machars and East Ayrshire Car Clubs. In 2019 it will be the final round of the British Rally Championship, which will considerably raise its profile, prestige and visitor numbers.

Kirsty Riddick, a member of the organising committee, said: “Our 2019 event will be the 46th annual running of the rally, and is set to be our biggest yet, as we under take organising two separate events for the Scottish and British Rally Championships.
This will bring new challenges to our small but dedicated team, but we are up for the test. This would not be possible without the invaluable continued support of Dumfries & Galloway Council, and our title sponsors, The Armstrong Group.
We are excited to welcome BRC rallying back to Dumfries and Galloway, and we think it will be a great boost for the region.”

Stranraer Oyster Festival has become a high profile event in just two years, attracting 14,000 visitors in 2018 and raising awareness of Scotland’s native oysters, which are fished nearby.

Romano Petrucci, Chairman of the Stranraer Development Trust, which organises the festival said:The dedication of the organisers and staff, and the overwhelming support of the local community, has ensured that SOF has changed the story of the town forever.”

Wigtown is Scotland’s National Book Town and the festival has grown into a successful and much-loved feature in the country’s annual events calendar.

Finn McCreath, Vice Chair of Wigtown Festival Company, said:The 20thfestival was an outstanding event, attracting record visitor numbers and ticket sales. 
“It really shows how the public sector can work with communities to develop cultural events that are highly successful in attracting visitors, promoting the arts and regenerating local economies.
“In 2019 we will come of age, with our 21stfestival, and are really looking forward to doing even more to promote a love of reading and literature, and to highlight Dumfries and Galloway as a place to visit.”

DGC’s Major Festivals and Events Strategy is supported by VisitScotland.

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said:“Dumfries and Galloway has gone from strength-to-strength as an events destination over the years. 
“The likes of Electric Fields, Stranraer Oyster Festival and Wigtown Book Festival have generated fantastic economic and social benefits both locally and nationally and helped reaffirm Scotland’s reputation as the perfect stage for events.”

Original article from DGWGO

Stranraer oyster festival ‘worth £1m’

An independent study has found an oyster festival in south west Scotland generated about £1m for the economy.

The second edition of the event was held in Stranraer in September and attracted 14,000 visitors.

It represented a 40% rise on 2017 and the number of people staying in the town also showed an increase.

Mark Kummerer of MKA Economics, who carried out the research, said the event had generated more than double the economic impact of the first one.

“The second hosting of the Stranraer Oyster Festival was a greater success than the inaugural event,” he said.

“The festival attracted a much larger audience with more visitors from outside the region.

“There was a considerable increase in the number of visitors staying overnight and there was a big uplift in average spend.”

Romano Petrucci, who chairs the Stranraer Development Trust which runs the festival, said: “This is a staggering economic impact figure and it highlights just how important Stranraer Oyster Festival has become to our town in just a few short years.

“While we knew that the 2018 Stranraer Oyster Festival was a big success, we were blown away by the economist’s findings, so much so that we asked him to double check those figures just to be sure, which he did.

“This research demonstrates the power that communities have when they pull together to imagine a positive, more ambitious future.”

However, he stressed that the town needed to be made “more accessible” and said the trust would “fight endlessly” to see the local transport network improved.

BBC News

Image by Peter Robinson

Stranraer Oyster Festival 2021 Cancelled

Stranraer Oyster Festival 2021, one of Scotland’s biggest food festivals, has announced it will not take place this year due to continuing uncertainty over the impact of Covid-19.

In 2019 the three day community-run festival attracted more than 17,000 people to the shores of Loch Ryan, home of Scotland’s last remaining wild, native oyster fishery. The festival celebrates the town’s native oyster heritage and hosts the Scottish Oyster Shucking Championship, alongside a programme of entertainment and activities.

The 2021 festival had been scheduled for 10th – 12th September, and it was hoped that ongoing easing of Covid restrictions might allow for a major gathering of people in the autumn of this year.  However, festival organisers, Stranraer Development Trust, announced this morning that the 2021 event has been cancelled.

Romano Petrucci, Chair of Stranraer Development Trust, said:

“Despite our best intentions, and with the clear knowledge that our community is desperate for a boost and some good news, the Board of Stranraer Development Trust are sorry to announce the cancellation of this year’s Stranraer Oyster Festival.

“We have been working very hard behind the scenes to explore approaches that might allow our festival to return this year.  We carried out a very thorough examination of all the possibilities, but circumstances make it impossible for us to guarantee a festival that is safe for our community and safe for our visitors at this time.

“Hosting Stranraer Oyster Festival is a huge undertaking for our community and it involves a great deal of planning in advance. It is of course tempting to be optimistic, and to hope that circumstances in September will be different, but as a community organisation we have a responsibility to put the community first. Postponing making a decision about this year’s festival till July or August simply is not an option.

“We had an incredible headline guest lined up, and that has made this decision all the harder. In that regards, a huge thanks must go to Doug McLean and his team at the Scottish International Airshow, as well as the many, many people the Trust have engaged with these last few months as we attempted to find the reassurances and confidences we needed to make our decision.

“By the time 2022 and the next planned Stranraer Oyster Festival comes around, it will be a staggering and very sobering three years since we last all gathered for such a wonderful weekend celebrating our local oysters. For now, all we can do is apologise for this year’s cancellation and wish each and every one of you a safe, happy and healthy summer.”

Samsam Bubbleman to attend 2018 Festival

Excitement is building for the 2018 Stranraer Oyster Festival with the announcement of the headline children’s performer for the festival, Samsam Bubbleman.

Samsam Bubbleman is an internationally renowned bubbleologist who is currently touring Australia.  He is the holder of nine bubble related Guinness World Records and has performed for a host of famous people including Prince Harry, JK Rowling and Shakira.  He will be introducing the children of Stranraer to the bubblingly awesome spectacle of creative, interactive bubble magic at two fun-packed performances on Sunday 16th September.  These will be free of charge to attend.

Activities for children and young people are a key element of the Stranraer Oyster Festival, particularly during 2018’s Year of Young People, and the full programme of events, activities and volunteering opportunities will be unveiled later this summer.  Samsam Bubbleman is the second act to be announced for the 2018 Oyster Festival, joining celebrity chef Nick Nairn on the festival programme.

Romano Petrucci, Chairman of Stranraer Development Trust, the organisation behind the festival, said:

“Our young people’s line up is every bit as important to our festival and our town as the food festival elements, so I’m delighted that a performer with such wide appeal to audiences of all ages has been secured for our festival.  I look forward to seeing Samsam Bubbleman wowing the crowds and I’m hoping his performances will inspire our young visitors to fill the skies above the oyster festival with hundreds and hundreds of bubbles.”

Celebrity Chef, Nick Nairn booked for 2018 Festival

Stranraer Development Trust are delighted to announce Nick Nairn as celebrity chef for the forthcoming Stranraer Oyster Festival 2018.

This years festival will run from Friday 14th until Sunday 16th of September and the Scottish renowned chef will perform four completely different cooking demonstrations over both the Saturday and Sunday of the festival. Stranraer Development Trust Chairman Romano Petrucci described it as “a huge coup for the festival which highlights both the increasing growth and popularity of the event whilst confirming the promise of the board to deliver a bigger and better festival with our celebrity chef performing both days this year”.

Stranraer Development Trust Project Officer, Allan Jenkins, has spent considerable time sourcing who he believed would be best suited to the event before deciding on Nick. He will be ably supported by three new staff members and he added “it has been non- stop since I started my post a month ago. I knew it would be the case of hitting the ground running, but quite honestly the interest from locals, visitors, stall holders, businesses and volunteers has been overwhelming. It is such an exciting challenge and all the staff are very much up for it.

Anyone who knows me will understand I am extremely proud of Stranraer and being able to deliver such a project with household names like Nick Nairn is a fantastic experience. Nick ticked many boxes, in particular his very clear love of seafood. Together, our intention is to deliver something very special which everyone in Stranraer and the surrounding community can be rightly proud of.