Merimbula oyster farmer Pip Boyton is really looking forward to this year’s Narooma Oyster Festival (4-5 May). ‘It’s shaping up to be the best ever,’ she said.
‘The Oyster Festival is a highlight of my year. Autumn is such a lovely time and south coast oysters are in their prime.’
Introducing separate women’s and men’s rounds this year in the Festival’s very popular Oyster Shucking competition was her suggestion.
Above: Merimbula oyster farmer Pip Boyton says Narooma Oyster Festival is a highlight of her year,and this year’s Festival is shaping up to be the best ever.
‘It’s good to compete against your peers, but it also highlights the many women who now feature in the oyster industry,’ she said. ‘We’re seeing the next generation with a lot of young families buying into the industry.
‘While women have always worked in the industry, it was largely behind the scenes. Now more women are working alongside the men and taking a more prominent role in the industry.’
Shucking competition judge is John Susman, chair of oyster judges at Sydney Royal’s Fine Food Show and one of the biggest names in seafood in Australia. The competition is open to everyone and there is good prize money.
The Oyster Festival is NSW South Coast’s signature event celebrating the region’s quality produce, especially its oysters, with a great program on the Saturday for foodies and families alike.
Festival spokesperson Cath Peachey said the Festival’s oysters will be drawn from eight south coast estuaries in one of the world’s most environmentally sustainable oyster growing regions.
‘Farmers from six estuaries will sell oysters from their own stalls in Australia Oyster Coast’s Oyster Alley, while everyone at the Festival will be able to buy from the AOC’s marquee a tasting plate of oysters from all eight estuaries allowing them to compare the flavour and texture of oysters from each estuary,’ Ms Peachey said.
New this year will be Farm Yarns, a ‘meet the producer’ conversation-style event at 1pm hosted by John Susman. Everyone will have the opportunity to meet other local producers from the area including Nic Dibden of Tilba Real Dairy, Hayley Abbott from the Narooma fishing family, and Clyde River oyster farmer Ben Ralston.
Saturday is mostly about food but with more than 70 market stalls, free kids rides, celebrity chef cooking demonstrations and live music all day, there is something for everyone. Details of the music will be released next week, headlined by award winning solo artist Claude Hay who ranges from traditional blues, to hard rock and funk. A highlight this year will be the various Aboriginal displays.
Stalls will include some of the region’s award winning boutique dairy companies, Clyde River Berry Farm, Disaster Bay Chillies, Tanja Olives and Eden mussels. Food other than oysters will also be available such as laksa from the Chamber of Commerce’s Matt Ratcliffe Oyster Bar and Alan Newbold’s pop up restaurant.
Check Narooma Oyster Festival webpage www.naroomaoysterfestival.com and Facebook for full details about Friday’s free family concert, freestyle motocross displays and fireworks finale (4.30-8.15pm), and the full programme for Saturday (10am-6pm)