Narooma Oyster Festival's growth and significance are celebrated in an exhibition at Narooma Library, as organisers gear up for the 2020 Festival on May 1-2 .
"The Festival was originally a grass roots initiative of Narooma Chamber of Commerce in 2008, but it has since grown into one of the region's most significant events and led to the establishment of a not-for-profit company to plan, deliver and grow the Festival for the community's benefit," Oyster Festival chair Cath Peachey said.
"The Festival celebrates all this region offers and is hugely important for Narooma's economy and the community.
"It's more than a good weekend. The sustained marketing effort over a long period of time has created an enormously positive brand for our region. Visitors say the festival has been on their bucket list for years and the 60 per cent repeat visitation is a testament to the warm community and business response visitors experience. It's a real community effort to achieve that."
Ms Peachey said the recent fires have not only directly impacted people who have lost homes and businesses; the effect has been devastating on businesses all along the south coast that rely on the tourism trade over summer to tide them through the year.
She said the big message from organisers is the Festival will definitely go ahead on May 1-2 with new features to be revealed in coming weeks.
"The south coast is open for business and eager to welcome visitors," Ms Peachey said.
"It's now more important than ever for locals to spread that word, including about the Oyster Festival," she said. "I urge people to pop into the library and check out the exhibition which is on until Saturday, February 1.
"A major feature is a display of exquisite photographs of south coast oyster farmers by well-known professional photographer Heide Smith.
"Many locals are surprised the Festival has been running for 12 years and now contributes about $1m to Narooma's economy, with more than one-third of people surveyed last year staying at least five nights in the area."
Eurobodalla Shire Council has recognised Narooma Oyster Festival as one of the Shire's two hallmark events.