Oyster shuckers and growers are gearing one of the biggest events in the South Coast oyster calendar – the Narooma Oyster Festival happening on Saturday, May 6.
Two-time winner and Batemans Bay oyster grower Jim Yiannaros will be joined by his twin brother John, also a previous winner, and John’s 20-year-old daughter Vlasia.
Jim said he and his brother have been shucking oysters since the age of four or five, when their dad moved their family to the Clyde River to start farming oysters.
Before that, his father’s first job after emigrating from Greece was opening oysters at the St. Kilda fish market, when he was only a teenager.
Jim said there was going to be some excellent shucking talent at this year’s festival including former workers of theirs Jerrod Dennis and Gavin Chatfield, now both of Australia’s Oyster Coast.
“They are all good but if I win it for a third time, then I will retire,” he said.
Representing Narooma will be Wagonga Inlet grower David Maidment, who is not too optimistic about his chances as while he said he was fast, he is a bit rough.
“It’s not all about the speed but also about the technique and how clean you shucked oysters are at the end,” Mr Maidment said. “One nick or bit of shell and that oyster is out.”
Mr Maidment meanwhile said his money would be on Pambula grower and shucker extraordinaire Sue McIntyre, who also has great skills.
There are a record number of stall and performers at this year’s Narooma Oyster Festival, including a stand from five different oyster growing areas – Wagonga Inlet, Clyde River, Shoalhaven River, Pambula Lake and Merimbula Lake – and each will be serving up fresh, uncooked oysters from their specific area.
Mr Maidment will be manning the Wagonga Inlet stall where they plan to have 200 dozen Sydney rock oysters and 40 native angasi oysters for sale, as well as delicious prawn spring rolls. The Narooma Chamber of Commerce will have its own tent selling a range of cooked oysters.
It was hive of activity down at the Narooma oyster sheds on Barlow’s Bay on Thursday afternoon where oyster farmers such as John and son Chris Ritchie were processing as many oysters as possible, not only for the festival, but also to be shipped off to Sydney and Melbourne.
Also on Barlow’s Bay was the oyster punt ready to be loaded with fireworks for Friday’s night opening show on Forsters Bay. The festival itself runs from 10am to 4pm on Saturday.
Check out the full program of activities at www.naroomaoysterfestival.com
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