In a tough economic climate the Narooma Oyster Festival delivered $3.4 million into the local economy and achieved a media reach of 4 billion.
The not-for-profit provided a platform to showcase NSW's own native seafood - the rock oyster - to key markets in Sydney, Canberra and regional NSW.
The 9500 festival attendees quaffed 60,000 oysters during the 16-hour festival and stallholders reported bumper sales of some of the region's best produce and beverages.
Outside the gates an additional $700,000 was spent on food, tours and retail in Narooma over the festival weekend in May.
Accommodation providers benefited from an extra night's stay versus 2022.
Most visitors booked four nights, above the state-wide average of three nights.
The majority of visitors - 82 per cent - were from outside the region, mainly Sydney, Canberra, Illawarra and Shoalhaven.
Sixty per cent of visitors were first-time festival-goers and 98 per cent said they would recommend the festival to others.
Cath Peachey, chair of Narooma Rocks, the organisation behind the festival, praised the generosity of the sponsors, community and 150 volunteers who supported the festival.
"Delivering Southern NSW's largest food and beverage event in a small town with little hard infrastructure is not for the faint hearted," she said.
"Ticket prices cover about a third of the costs of putting on the event so we rely on the support of sponsors, government funding and volunteers to get us over the line and keep ticket prices as low as possible."
She said the festival's timing just before winter and the incredible media reach of 4 billion helped raise awareness that the region is a year-round destination with much to offer.
In collaboration with Eurobodalla Shire Council, 800 kilograms of oyster shells were saved from landfill, with many used in an installation by First Nations artist Megan Cope to celebrate the Sydney Opera House's 50th anniversary in September.
"Oyster farmers are a truly innovative group of people," Ms Peachey said.
"Their mindset goes beyond growing techniques and estuary care to thinking of new ways for people to experience oysters.
"Oyster Farmers Alley, the producers market and our premium experiences provide a great place for them to test those new ideas and products beyond the farm gate directly to an engaged regional, interstate and increasingly international audience."
Many celebrated chefs, national media and representatives from the food and beverage industry return year after year.
Australia's oyster shucking champion for 2023, Gerard 'Doody' Denis will soon head to the World Oyster Opening Championships in Ireland on September 23.
Ms Peachey will be there to cheer him on and progress a pitch to organisers to host the world championships in Narooma in the future.
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