Stranraer’s First Oyster Festival a Massive Success

We are proud and delighted to have been able to support Stranraer Development Trust to create the immensely successful first Stranraer Oyster Festival.

Oysters all round!

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

Famous Faces

Mr Bloom wows the crowd

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 Thousands Oysters Consumed!

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.

Live music at the festival

“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.”

Celebrating Stranraer’s Seafood Heritage

Families enjoying fresh seafood

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 went on to represent Scotland in the World Oyster Opening Championship in Galway.

Click here for more about our work with Stranraer Development Trust.

Stranraer Oyster Festival – Official 2017 Dates!

Creetown Initiative can now reveal the official 2017 dates of the Stranraer Oyster Festival – 15th – 17th September!

Since November 2015 we have been working with Stranraer Development Trust to secure funds and support them to develop a Stranraer Oyster Festival – major annual international festival that will celebrate not only the famous Loch Ryan oysters (Scotland’s only wild, native oyster bed) but also all other local produce.

Unique to Stranraer

The unique natural resource of Loch Ryan Oysters is an asset to the town that is not currently used to its full potential.  At present oyster are sent around the world but the connection with Stranraer is not recognised. The festival provides the opportunity to make this connection, increase visitor numbers to the town and support the economy of both the town and surrounds. Although the event will be called the Stranraer Oyster Festival and they will certainly be the headline, all local produce from land and sea will be included, thereby supporting all local producers.

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.

New Jobs and Community Support

A fantastic sum has been secured by Chris Hanna, one of our project workers, to fund all aspects of the Stranraer Oyster Festival and has allowed the Trust to employ a Festival Officer, a Youth Programme Co-ordinator and a Festival Assistant. An oyster festival has been talked about for some time by various groups and organisations and we know from initial talks that there is excitement and huge support for the event.

Other projects we have helped Stranraer Development Trust to carry out to date include Stranraer in Bloom floral enhancements and the setting up of a Resilience Fund.