What a weekend! Official Media Release

Wow! What a weekend – read below the official media release…

Organisers of the first Stranraer Oyster Festival have hailed the event a ‘massive success that exceeded all expectations’, with over 10,000 people visiting during the weekend.

The three day festival saw sell out performances, demonstrations and events, with crowds flocking to see Hardeep Singh Kohli, Mr Bloom from Cbeebies and local spectacles, like the giant seafood paella created by John Henry of Henrys Bay House Restaurant.  More than 500 people took part in the inaugural Big Oyster Bash at North West Castle, a highlight of which was a rendition of Bonnie Gallowa’ by 17 year old Stranraer Academy pupil Kathleen McClenaghan.

Three thousand oysters (a third of a tonne), were consumed over the weekend, many of them by people who had never tried an oyster before, including many local children.  Market stall holders sold out completely of pies, cakes and sticky toffee puddings, 150 kites were designed and flown by young visitors to the festival and feedback from local accommodation providers suggests the area was fully booked within a 20 mile radius of Stranraer.

Romano Petrucci, Chairman of Stranraer Development Trust, who organised the festival, said:

“The Festival was incredible and it shows just what can be achieved when our community works together.  I heard a comment by a visitor that this was the weekend when Stranraer fell back in love with the sea. Our beautiful town has always had an affinity with Loch Ryan and with the sea, but when the ferries left town our connection with the water went with it.  We lost a bit of our identity, but our first Oyster Festival has given us that back.

“We may no longer be a ferry town, instead we are now a destination to visit rather than a place to travel through.  Our oysters have helped us to craft a new identity for our town.  Stranraer will quickly become known as a tourism and food destination, somewhere to visit for incredible seafood, warm hospitality and stunningly beautiful vistas.

“Feedback from local businesses is overwhelmingly positive, with increased sales across the board and many businesses reporting record breaking sales.  We are inspired and excited by the potential of Stranraer Oyster Festival and we have already come up with a host of ideas for how to make it bigger, better and more delicious next year.”

Stranraer Oyster Festival is Scotland’s first major oyster celebration. It was designed to celebrate the seafood heritage of Stranraer, including Scotland’s last remaining wild, native oyster fishery in Loch Ryan.

The festival also hosted the Scottish Oyster Shucking Championship in partnership with Seafood Scotland.  The hotly contested competition saw local oyster expert Tristan Hugh-Jones of Loch Ryan Oysters win the title.  He will now go on to represent Scotland in the World Oyster Opening Championship in Galway this weekend.

Tristan said:

“The festival was an overwhelming success and the team are completely exhausted by shucking thousands of oysters over the weekend.  We were thrilled to be able to share our passion for Loch Ryan oysters with local people, and Rob and John of the Vital Spark loved introducing children to the creatures that can be found on the floor of Loch Ryan.

“I’m delighted to have won the Scottish Championship amongst such tough competition.  I’ve always wanted to compete in the Galway World Championship, and I couldn’t be prouder to be representing Scotland at this major event.”

Stena Line was the Headline Sponsor of Stranraer Oyster Festival and the festival was part funded by the European Maritime Fisheries Fund and by Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Major Events Strategic Fund. The festival was also supported by The Holywood Trust, SSE and the Big Lottery Fund and was sponsored by a large number of local businesses.

An independent economic impact study has been commissioned to evaluate the value of the festival to Stranraer and the results are likely to be announced in October.

Festival General Assistant wanted

We are looking for a temporary General Assistant to assist the Festival Officer organise the first Stranraer Oyster Festival.

This is a full time but temporary position for three months commencing in July 2017 until end September 2017. Annual salary of £18,000 pro rata.

For a job description and further details about the role and what we are looking for please click on the Job Description Festival General Assistant

If you are interested please email your CV and a letter to stranraerdevelopmenttrust@gmail.com by 31st May 2017.

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