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New Role for Lovett

21 May 2014

New Role for Lovett

Nine time Bluff Oyster & Food Festival Men's Oyster Opening Champion, Keith Lovett of Bluff, will be back on stage for this year's competition on Saturday 24 May.

However rather than gunning for yet another title Lovett will be assisting Festival organisers with the events instead of competing in them. The new role will see the champ checking the counts of oysters and checking for cuts while being part of the team to ensure the event runs smoothly.

Asked whether the change has been tough to make the man who dominated the title for so long doesn't hesitate with his answer. "It won't be too hard. I proved my point. I dragged more people into the events which is what I set out to do!"

On the eve of last year's Festival Lovett said that his main goal was always to get younger blokes interested in the art of oyster opening. "It had started to become a dying trade." His goal has definitely been achieved with twenty-one openers registered across this year's events.

However while his primary motivation may have been to try and revive the art Lovett still managed to fashion an outstanding record over the years. Nine wins in the Men's Open will be hard to top and is particularly impressive when he did so without being a regular opener himself.

The milestone of a tenth title eluded him last year as another Bluff man, Jimmy Ryan-Thomas took the spoils. "I wasn't going to enter last year. My hands have seized up a bit." While he won all those titles and recorded some impressive times in doing so Lovett says he actually opened 50 succulent Bluff Oysters in a practice run one year in under two minutes. He has also twice won the New Zealand title in match ups with the Russell Oyster Festival Champion, Ben Warren.

While not competing this year Lovett will not be far from the action and as he did when he was helping grow the numbers in the Oyster Opening events, this year he will be 'giving back' to an event he has dominated. The title race is now wide open without his presence and if a younger opener was looking for advice who better to ask than someone who was so competitive for so long. What would he tell someone if they asked how to win? "Make sure you concentrate and just do what you can do!"

The Oyster Opening events take place on the indoor stage during the afternoon and will be followed by the equally popular Oyster Eating races.

The 2014 Festival will again take place at the familiar Real Journeys site on Foreshore Road adjacent to the Old Town Wharf in Bluff.

No BYO is permitted and Right Of Admission Is Reserved. Tickets cost just $25 each with tickets for children 12 & under $7 each. Tickets are available from the Invercargill City Council 03 2111 777,, the Bluff Service Centre, Gore Street, Bluff , 0800 484 2538 and also from Barnes Oysters in Invercargill.

Once again McDermotts Coachlines will operate a return bus service from Invercargill to the Festival. Details of the bus service and other information is available on the Festival website -

Inquiries about the Festival can be made via email to


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