Full House at Oyster Festival
Full House at Oyster Festival
A full house of 5,300 people gathered for the 2016 Bluff Oyster & Food Festival in Lee Street, Bluff today.
People from every corner of New Zealand along with a good number of international visitors were waiting for the gates to open at 10.30ambefore the Festival began with the traditional Piping In Of The Oyster after which local identity Spencer Morrison told the crowd they were at the "hub of the universe" before reading the Ode to the Bluff Oyster. Then Festival Chairman, John Edminstin, welcomed everyone, wished them an enjoyable day and the event was underway.
Waiting for Festival goers were the major attraction, 20,000 succulent Bluff Oysters, complemented by plenty of other great seafood plus a selection of tasty offerings for those who were not seafood lovers. Food stalls and beverage providers did a roaring trade while musical entertainment and the popular oyster competitions drew big audiences throughout the day.
Festival Chairman, John Edminstin, had one word to describe the atmosphere - "marvellous!" He also paid tribute to his committee saying that what the team had achieved in the past 20 months was "outstanding." In the eight months leading up to last year's Festival the committee had worked to get a new, purpose built, facility which was used for the first time in 2015 and now just twelve months later the Festival was a sellout.
The Men's Oyster Opening Competition went to a final 'shootout' as Ricci Grant of Barnes Oysters and Shane Wixon of Ngai Tahu both won their heats, opening 50 Bluff oysters in a time of 2 minutes 38 seconds. Wixon initially recorded a time of 2 minutes 30 seconds but penalties added 8 seconds to his time, forcing a final. In the Final both Wixon and Grant opened 20 Oysters, Wixon prevailing in a time of 56 seconds, ahead of Grant with 1 minutes 04 seconds. Meanwhile Vic Pearsey from Barnes Oysters won her sixth straight Women's title in a time of 3 minutes 19 seconds. Cory Boyce of Direct Fish opened 10 Oysters in 41 seconds to win the Blindfold Race while he and his team mates combined to win the Relay Race for Direct Fish.
Members of the public competed in several Oyster Eating Competition Heats before a final that included competitors from locations as diverse as Gore, Hawkes Bay, Blenheim and Slovenia. Michelle Wilson of Blenheim was both the Overall and Ladies Winner while another from Blenheim, Daryl 'Dagwood' MacDonald, won the Men's title.
Entertainment throughout the day included the Bluff School Kapa Haka Group, Mapu Kuki Airani Cook Island Drummers, The Flaming Moes, Vixen, The Bragg Brothers and The Beat Girls.
The Bluff Welcome Home Titi Committee won the award for the Best Food Stall, offering stuffed, roasted or salted muttonbirds, muttonbird heart stew, curried crayfish and marinated mussels.
Tickets for the 2017 Festival scheduled for Saturday 20 May go on sale on Trade Me tonight.