Celebration of shucking at Falmouth Oyster Festival

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By Em_Williams | Monday, October 08, 2012, 14:33

It's Oyster Festival time in Falmouth again. The annual event takes place this year from 11th to 14th October with highlights including television presenter Monty Halls, comedian Johnny Cowling and free oyster tasting from Rick Stein's son, Chef Jack Stein.

Now in its 16th year, the festival, sponsored by St Michael's Hotel and Spa and supported by Falmouth Business Improvement District (BID), casts a flavoursome programme of food, music and entertainment over five days.

At the heart of the festival lies the rich history and heritage of the oyster fishermen who, for decades, have derived their livelihood from this traditional trade.  Prohibited from using engines in order to preserve the natural ecology of the riverbed, Falmouth is now the only oyster fishery in Europe where original methods are still used. Here, molluscs are still gathered by hand, graded to perfection by eye, purified in an approved environment, and personally packed by the passionate crew before being 'shucked' and sampled all over the world.

Many of the oyster boats – the Falmouth Working Boats - were built at boatyards around the Fal. Dating back as far as 1860, these impressive flat bottomed vessels provide a fitting backdrop for the event.

Richard Wilcox, Falmouth Business Improvement District (BID) Manager welcomes the return of the Festival saying:

"As a working harbour town and one of the only places in the world still harvesting oysters by traditional methods, diverse events like the Oyster Festival encourage residents of Cornwall and visitors to come to Falmouth and sample fresh quality produce as well as a great atmosphere! More importantly, it is also an opportunity to unearth and appreciate the authentic stories of the local oystermen who have helped shaped Falmouth's identity." 

Opening on Wednesday 10th October with a Gourmet Night at St Michael's Hotel and Spa, the festival steers a course the following day with a Grand Opening Bash, cookery demonstrations, live music from The Tinners and an evening in aid of Precious Lives Appeal with renowned Cornish Comedian, Johnny Cowling.

After a Joseph Perrier oyster shucking competition, from Cadgwith Cove, 'The Fisherman's Apprentice' Monty Halls whets the appetite on Saturday 13th October with an entertaining evening packed with tantalising tales of travels, experiences and adventures.

Monty says: "I'm very excited to be part of this year's Falmouth Oyster Festival. It's a great chance to visit Cornwall again and find out more about the fascinating history of the oyster fishery."

The festival winds-up on Sunday 14 October with a Falmouth Working Boat Race, a Sea Shanty Lunch and live music from The Cornish Wurzells.

For full programme details and more information, please visit www.falmouthoysterfestival.co.uk or www.falmouth.co.uk




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