The inaugural Stranraer Oyster Festival 2017 takes place this weekend.
The festival is inspired by the annual September harvesting of Loch Ryan’s unique Scottish native oysters. Visitors can look forward to cooking demos, wild foraging expeditions, live music, kids’ activities and Scotland’s first Oyster Shucking Championships.
And, if you want eat some oysters, we suspect that you won’t struggle to find some.
Stranraer businessman Romano Petrucci is chairman of The Stranraer Development Trust, the organisers of the festival.
He says, ‘We wanted to create a late summer tourism highlight to attract and welcome visitors to Stranraer. Food tourism is one of the fastest growing tourism sectors in the UK. Stranraer’s heritage means the town is perfectly placed to capitalise on this growing interest in themed food festivals.
Stranraer Oyster Festival: picturesque harbour
‘By organising a festival that showcases the stunning beauty of Loch Ryan and the loch’s unique seafood, we are looking forward to showing off our beautiful town to the world.
‘Oysters might be considered a luxury food, but oyster festivals are not elitist. Oyster festivals take oysters as a focal point and create a celebration of local food and culture involving all the local community. That’s what we’ve done with this new festival. And, for visitors who don’t want to try a Loch Ryan oyster, we’ll have plenty of ice cream in wafer and chocolate oyster shells.’
Scotland’s only self sufficient wild oyster bed
Apparently, Loch Ryan is the only wild oyster bed in Scotland that is self-sufficient. By harvesting the oysters slowly, and replacing the small oysters into beds, Loch Ryan Oysters hope to build a larger population.
The Loch Ryan oyster bed dates back to 1701. Back then King William III granted a Royal Charter of the oyster bed to the Wallace family. The family live on the shores of the Loch. The rights to the oysters bed have been in their family ever since.
Loch Ryan oysters are described as having a ‘thick shell, probably due to their slow growth, with a plump, almost crisp bite to them. They are salty, and have a nutty, real taste of the sea’.
I realise that this may be a little geeky for many but I found this guide to the UK’s oysters a fascinating read.
You can browse the full programme for the festival here. Most of the events are free but some are ticketed.