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Narooma Oyster Festival rates best ever

Narooma Oyster Festival on Saturday was the best ever held.

‘We have hit a new high after 10 years of the Festival,’ said Narooma Chamber of Commerce President and Festival Committee Chair Niels Bendixsen.

‘Feedback at the Festival from leading seafood chefs and food writers rate it now one of the best seafood festivals in the country.’

Twice as many people came to Narooma Oyster Festival on Saturday compared with last year, and they consumed about 60% more oysters.

‘It was stunning to see so many people having such a wonderful time throughout the Festival on such a beautiful Narooma May day,’ he said

‘We’re still crunching the numbers, but we estimate over 4,000 people came on Saturday including many from Sydney and Canberra, with one person even coming from Chicago in the United States. The whole vibe was fantastic.

‘The focus of course was on oysters from the eight or nine estuaries from the Shoalhaven to the Victorian border, each with their own unique flavour, and Oyster Alley was hectic most of the day with most stalls selling out by mid-afternoon.

‘We estimate about 42,000 opened Sydney Rock Oysters were sold, along with many hundreds of dozen Pacific and flat oysters, and that’s not taking into account all the unopened oysters sold.’

Mr Bendixsen said everyone also appreciated the wide range of gourmet food available at the Festival from leading south coast cafes and caterers.

The Ultimate Oyster Experience lived up to its name, with rave reviews from those who took part.

The expanded cooking demonstrations were ‘jam-packed’ all day. ‘Our south coast chefs held their own with some of the country’s leading chefs, and Kelly Eastwood was magnificent as the MC,’ said Festival committee member Cath Peachey.

Organiser of the Festival’s Aboriginal involvement Cheryl Davison was ecstatic. ‘It was so fantastic for our mob to feel such a significant part of the Festival.

‘Everyone absolutely loved talking with those cooking at the fire pit and tasting what they cooked, and with Uncle Noel talking about bush tucker next door. It was even more successful than I ever imagined. It has given everyone so much pride.’

There was also a lot of interest in the inaugural Ladies Oyster Shucking competition which highlighted the more prominent roles women are now playing in the industry. The winner was Sally McLean of Jim Wild’s Oysters on the Shoalhaven River whose father Jim Wild is a former Australian Oyster Shucking Champion and former MC of the Narooma’s shucking competition. Runner-up was Sue McIntyre of Broadwater Oysters, Pambula Lake, with Vlasia Yiannaros of Oysters Unplugged in third place.

Above: Winner of the inaugural Narooma Women’s Oyster Shucking Competition was L Sally McLean (centre) of Jim Wild’s Oysters on the Shoalhaven River whose father Jim Wild is a former Australian Oyster Shucking Champion. Runner-up was Sue McIntyre of Broadwater Oysters on Pambula Lake (right), with Vlasia Yiannaros of Oysters Unplugged third (left). Photo Laurelle Pacey

In the men’s competition Australia's Oyster Coast shucker Gerard Dennis narrowly beat his former boss Jim Yiannaros who has been the champion since the perpetual trophy’s inception.

‘Music throughout the day was fabulous, and the last act with Claude Hay was an extraordinary end to a very successful day with everyone up dancing as the sun set,’ Mr Bendixsen said.

Strong winds on Friday night forced the organisers to cancel the scheduled free family concert, motocross demonstration and fireworks.

Above: The cooking demonstrations were extremely popular. Shown is MC Kelly Eastwood with Chef Nick Gardner from the Hampden Deli Dining and School in Kangaroo Valley. Photo Laurelle Pacey

Above: Narooma Oyster Festival’s Oyster Alley was a major attraction with visitors keen to compare the flavours of oysters grown ion the different estuaries. Photo Laurelle Pacey

Above: Talking with the cooks and tasting local Aboriginal seafood cooked at the Fire Pit proved a major hit. Photo Laurelle Pacey

Above: From the Australia's Oyster Coast social media feed "All hail the shucking king! Our very own "Doody Dennis", Production Supervisor, took out the title at the Narooma Oyster Festival shucking comp on the weekend! The apprentice has now become the master"

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