WHAT: STRANRAER OYSTER FESTIVAL 2020
WHY: OYSTER FESTIVAL FEATURING FIREWORKS
WHEN: 11TH TO 13TH SEPTEMBER 2020
WHERE: STRANRAER, DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY, SCOTLAND
COST: CONTACT LOCAL OUTLETS – CAFE PIZZERIA, BAXTERS, THE NORTH WEST CASTLE HOTEL, MCKENZIES, THE CENTRAL CAFÉ
In 2017, the first-ever Stranraer Oyster Festival was held to meet the demand for people both from the immediate area and beyond who wanted a hands, local event, which brings community and visitors together in a fun and informative way. Now entering its 4th year, the Stranraer Oyster Festival celebrates the unique events of the opening of the new harvest for the delicious and native Loch Ryan Oysters.
Loch Ryan’s wild, native oyster fisheries are situated in the crystal clear waters of Loch Ryan. The oyster beds were established in 1701 when King William III (aka William of Orange) set out a special charter granting the rights fish the natural oyster bed to the Wallace family. The family continues to live on the banks of the Loch to this day.
Fishing them is carried out most days with their dredging boats and they lift around 40,000 oysters which are then graded from No1 which are around 150g to No4 which are no less than 75g. They will usually harvest around 2000 so the remaining will be put back into the water in piles to assist in their fertilisation in the Spring. This aids the fishermen so that they know exactly where they are and it also helps to maintain the tiny weeny baby oysters which would under any other circumstances be swept out to sea, maintaining the oyster beds for future generations.
Oysters are only fished till late April/early May and they are left alone through the Summer and fishing recommences again 1st September.
The first event of its kind brought around 10,000 visitors to the area which also added around £1 million to the local economy.
Each year, a celebrating chef has been on hand, holding cooking demonstrations and making recommendations about how best to use this fine seafood. Previous Chefs have included Tony Singh and Nick Nairns.
In addition, they hold the usual oyster shucking championships (opening them by hand) as well as a full programme of events, activities and of course, opportunities to eat and drink:
- Street seafood treats
- Live music throughout the weekend (into the wee small hours)
- The Big Oyster Bash is a live event featuring a DJ, hot buffet and a prize draw
- Extreme pond dipping – get up close and personal with dog fish, starfish, whelks, spider crabs and of course, oysters
- Stand up paddleboarding (in the sea – in late Autumn – mmmm, maybe I will give that a wide berth)
- Cakes, pies, and goodies
- Oodles of seafood
- Artisan food and craft stalls
Get along, show your support and take in some of the stunning scenery around the Loch.