Falmouth Oyster Festival celebrates its 20th year with a brand new look and extra entertainment line up. From 13-16 October, Falmouth Oyster Festival will for the 20th year welcome thousands of visitors to enjoy a packed programme of cookery demonstrations, live music and freshly shucked oysters.
In 1996 – 20 years ago, the Town Centre Manager Nigel Hewitt was tasked with creating a festival that encouraged visitors to Falmouth in the shoulder months. Nigel’s vision was to develop a festival that had meaning and could create a sense of belonging for the town. Celebrating the start of the unique Oyster dredging season seemed to be an obvious choice.
“The format has stayed largely the same but obviously the festival has grown,” said Nigel. “The first event was held at the Poly with 1000 oysters supplied by Duchy Oyster Farm. Len Hodges bought me an oyster knife, showed me how to shuck an oyster and then I had to do the rest! There was a small craft fair and Kevin Viner provided a cookery demonstration. By the 3rd festival, music had been introduced and the event was held at Custom House Quay, where Hanging Johnny’s shanties grew the idea for another popular event, Falmouth’s Sea Shanty Festival!
I am really pleased that I have contributed in a small way and that the festival has found its own legs, I appreciate lots of work has been done over the 20 years and I don’t regret I’m not involved, its just great to know that I had some part in setting up what has become such a firm favourite”.
Over the years the festival has experienced the big storm of 2002, which saw the marquee on Custom House Quay evacuated; a steady increase in visitors and consumption of oysters, promoting the move to Events Square and with the support of Falmouth Bookseller, a great number of celebrity chefs have opened the festival. High profile names including Rick Stein, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Clarissa Dickson Wright, Antonio Carluccio, Aldo Zilli, John Burton Race, Valentine Warner and Sophie Grigson have entertained cooking enthusiasts. Well known personalities and local Michelin Star Chefs including Pete Goss, Nathan Outlaw, Ben Tunnicliffe and Chris Eden have all added to the programme.
Falmouth Oyster Festival celebrated its 10th birthday in spectacular style with Gennaro Contaldo demonstrating his famous culinary skills and entertaining with his unique flamboyant style and flair. 18,000 visitors attended the 2006 festival, 16,000 oysters were consumed and washed down with 3,000 pints of Skinners ale and 200 bottles of Champagne. The 19th Falmouth Oyster Festival packed in the crowds with over 40,000 visitors and almost 20,000 oysters consumed over the four days.
The Festival and the oysters have received extensive national and international press coverage, even featuring in The Wall Street Journal and has become an integral part of Cornwall’s annual event programme.
For 2016, an enhanced evening entertainment programme promises to make this a birthday year to remember. With the cool retro tones of The Grace Notes, a heated Hot Chef Challenge rematch, Falmouth Soul Sensations, a rowdy 20th big birthday bash with Company B and some proper Cornish singing from The Oggymen provides a great mix of entertainment not to be missed!