Around 20,000 Bluff Oysters will lure thousands of people from all over New Zealand and beyond when the 2019 Bluff Oyster & Food Festival takes place in Bluff on Saturday 25 May.
As they were last year tickets were sold out months ago for a day that features the iconic Bluff Oyster and other succulent southern seafood such as blue cod, paua, salmon, kina, muttonbirds, scallops, mussels, seafood chowder and even crayfish cheese rolls.
There is also plenty of choice for those not partial to seafood with beer & beef pie, pork belly rolls, roast lamb rolls, Korean fried chicken, venison and bacon burger, eton mess, escargot, meringue and more! A range of beers and wines, barista and instant coffee plus hot tea are available to accompany the tasty fare.
The gates will open at 10.30am before the traditional Piping in of the Oyster and the reciting of the Ode to the Oyster at 11.00am. Bluff Town Crier Ian Holland will recite the Ode this year after which Festival Chairman John Edminstin will declare the event officially open and the festivities will be underway.
The Bluff School Kapa Haka Group will commence proceedings on the main stage followed by Christchurch based Yurt Party with their East European meets dubby roots sound. Sam Cullen and band follows and with Cullen’s career very much in the ascendancy at the moment.
A nominee for Southland Entertainer Of The Year Award, Sam will be joined by Chris Chilton of Pretty Wicked Head and Matt Ward. A Polynesian dance off follows with Kuki-Airani – Mapu while throughout the day there will prizes and giveaways.
Band Of Bluffies, consisting of Geoff Williams, Darcy Kerr, Jacob McQuarrie plus Lee and Casey Barris, are next up with some hard rocking music from 3.15pm before the appearance of THE HYPE, featuring former three-time Southland Entertainer Of The Year, Shannon Cooper Garland to round out the day.
The popular Oyster Competitions take place in Shed 3 with a range of Oyster Opening competitions followed by the Oyster Eating races.
The speed of the Oyster Openers is seriously impressive with races for Men, Ladies, Novices, a Factory Relay, a Boat Crew race and a Blindfold Race.
Vic Pearsey of Bluff will be gunning for her ninth title in succession in the Ladies Open this year. Last year Pearsey opened her 50 Bluff Oysters in 3 minutes 28 seconds but two years ago managed the feat in 2 minutes 43 seconds.
Shane Wixon has been the one to beat in the Men’s Open since 2015, his winning time for 50 oysters last year 3 minutes 02 seconds, short of his own personal best of 2 minutes 36 seconds.
Ricci Grant of Barnes Oysters has been the runner-up behind Wixon on every one of those years, even equalling his time in 2016 only to lose a tiebreaker to establish a winner with a further 20 oysters.
The popular Oyster Eating competitions follow the Oyster Opening events and participants are chosen from the crowd to down one dozen of Bluff’s best in the fastest possible time. Daryl ‘Dagwood’ MacDonald of Blenheim is heading south to try to take his fourth consecutive Oyster Eating title in his fourth visit to the Festival.
A new event was added to the eating contests last year – the Wasabi Chilli Challenge. The inaugural competition was won by Dave Vaile of Oamaru, who admitted afterwards that he and his workmates frequently have their own chilli eating competitions.
Once again Air New Zealand will bring in two jet loads of passengers from Auckland and Wellington specifically for the event while still more passengers are booked on a special weekend package.
Bluff, Saturday 25 May – the place to be!