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BREAKING NEWS: Oyster Festival 2020 is off

STRANRAER'S 2020 Oyster Festival has been axed because of Coronavirus. The hammer-blow news was announced this morning and is a setback for the whole of the South-West. It had been hoped that the September date for the festival might mean it was able to go ahead despite the pandemic but those hopes have been dashed. An official announcement from organisers Stranraer Development Trust said: 'SDT are sad to have to announce the cancellation of this year's planned Stranraer Oyster Festival over the weekend of September 11/12 and 13th September. 'Despite leaving the difficult decision as long as possible, in the end there is no way as organisers we can guarantee the environment for a safe event given the current situation worldwide.' Allan Jenkins, Project Officer for SDT, said: “Stranraer Oyster Festival has grown year on year and that is solely down to the support of numerous funders and of course the locals and visitors who attend the event. 'We had earmarked 2020 to be our biggest success to date, with a programme full of entertainment for everyone already taking shape and ready to delight the anticipated huge numbers. 'Our ultimate goal for this fantastic festival is to be completely self sufficient and as such we rely on a large crowd. Due to the current pandemic affecting our lives and loved ones daily, we feel it would be wholly inappropriate for us to go ahead with an event that would neither support our organisations best interests but also go against government guidelines at present. 'What is completely appropriate is that we place on record our huge thanks to those funders that have pledged to again support the festival, to the numerous service providers who are vital to supporting the infrastructure of the event and finally the vast amount of people who attend our event to trade or those who attend simply to enjoy the festivities. We wish you all good health just now and we very much look forward to welcoming you next September.' Romano Petrucci, Chair of SDT, added: 'I am just very sorry for the staff and the board who work so incredibly hard for 11 months to bring this event to fruition. 'I feel especially sorry for the performers who absolutely love being part of this event, for the stall-holders and businesses in the town who get a late summer boost from it and the volunteers who walk away from the weekend enrichened and smiling. 'The kids lose out because, as any parent will tell you, the quality of event we provide for kids' entertainment is of the highest order and of course locals and visitors would have been looking forward to what is now such a well established weekend for the area. 'But never mind. We can rest now and save our energy then make sure September 2021 is the best gathering yet. 'With the knowledge that last time over 17,000 people supported our efforts, we can maintain that confident approach and think of something even more spectacular for 18 months time. A personal thank you from the board to all and everyone who has funded and supported us- have a safe and peaceful summer.' It is understood that much work on this year's festival – the centrepiece of which is native 'flat' oysters won from the pristine waters of Loch Ryan – had already been completed. Once plentiful, native oysters have been hammered by overfishing and pollution. Loch Ryan is home to to the only commercial flat-oyster beds in Scotland and oysters from the loch have been exported live in a bid to re-establish colonies elsewhere. The Oyster Festival has featured celebrity chefs such as Tony Singh and Nick Nairn and is a key chance for artisan food and drink producers to showcase their wares.

<< back Published: 22 May 2020, 12:21