The second Stranraer Oyster Festival has been hailed a ‘phenomenal success’ by organisers after visitors flocked to the town. Half a tonne of oysters were consumed over the weekend, ticketed events were sold out across the festival programme, thousands of seafood street-food meals were served and traders reported widespread sell outs and record trading days.
Organised by Stranraer Development Trust to raise the profile of Stranraer as a coastal tourism destination, the oyster festival has attracted widespread support from the community and from funding organisations who have been keen to back the community-led economic regeneration in the town.
Chair of Stranraer Development Trust, Romano Petrucci, said:
“We promised to deliver an oyster festival that was bigger, better and more ambitious than last year and our team have certainly delivered on that promise. The festival was a phenomenal success and the seafood celebration marquee, where we created a social space where people could relax, interact and enjoy local seafood and a drink while listening to fantastic live music, was a real highlight. It was very noticeable that people were staying much longer, spending more and thoroughly enjoying the festival experience.
“The feedback we have received so far from visitors and from traders has been incredibly positive. To have delivered a festival of this scale in only our second year is a remarkable achievement and our Board are already planning how we can make it even better. We won’t aim for a bigger festival site next year but we have already identified several ways to make the festival experience even better and more professional for our visitors. This is our opportunity to put Stranraer on the food tourism map of Scotland and we are determined to deliver a nationally important festival to an exceptionally high standard.
“We are hugely grateful for the support and funding we have received from local businesses, from organisations and from the Council’s Major Festivals and Events Strategy. We are working hard to make our festival financially self sustaining within the next three years, and we are already looking ahead to our 2020 festival, which will take place during Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020. We look forward to Stranraer and Loch Ryan playing an important role in Scotland’s coastal tourism offering and we hope our oyster festival will be firmly established in the nation’s event calendar as one of our country’s most important food festivals.”
Councillor Adam Wilson, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Events Champion said,
“The Oyster Festival is really helping connect the community with the waterfront and creating a nationally significant attraction for Stranraer. The success of the Festival is really positive news and I know the huge crowds enjoyed the food, the atmosphere and the sense of occasion over the weekend. The Council will continue to invest in events that help regenerate Stranraer and our wider region and bring benefit to the local economy.”
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said:
“Stranraer Oyster Festival is a wonderful celebration of the town’s coastal heritage, and we are delighted to have supported the event this year through EventScotland’s National Events Programme.
“Scotland is the perfect stage for events, and the festival’s organisers have done a fantastic job in creating a memorable experience for visitors and locals alike with its diverse programme. We look forward to seeing the festival continue to go from strength to strength.”
Stranraer Oyster Festival is designed around celebrating Scotland’s last remaining wild, native oyster fishery, which lies in Loch Ryan. The native oyster was once widespread around Scotland and much of the UK but has been harvested to near extinction which means almost all other oysters for sale in the UK come from oyster farms.
The dates for next year’s Stranraer Oyster Festival have been announced as 13-15th September 2019 and planning for the next festival will start later this week. A full economic impact study is now underway that will report on visitor attendance as well as local economic impact next month.