Oyster Festival sells in record time

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Competing in the novice oyster opening competitions (50) Melisa Matheson, of Calders Oysters (left), Alecia Brown, of Calder's Oysters (winner) and Jordan Reynolds, of Barnes Wild Bluff Oysters, at the Bluff Oyster & Food Festival last year. Southland Express files

SELLING out months ahead of time is nothing new for the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival.

However, this year’s event has set a record: all 4500 tickets were sold by the first week of January.

Festival committee member Kylie Fowler said the festival was getting bigger each year.

“We usually sell out our tickets in February but for the first time in 11 years, we are sold out already. It is the earliest ever.”

Last year’s uncertainty about the festival’s future could be a reason for the boost, she said.

The future of the event was in doubt after the trust was denied permission to demolish a deteriorating historic building in Bluff, which bordered the festival grounds, which the trust could not sell and did not have the money to maintain.

Consent to demolish the category 2 listed heritage building, the Club Hotel in Gore St, was denied by the Invercargill City Council in May.

“It is the most asked question from the public

Trust members believed safety risks surrounding the building were under control, but said safety could be a problem in the future if there was further deterioration.

“Everything is sorted for this year’s event but we still want to demolish it [the building].”

Ms Fowler said the festival was vital to the region’s economy, especially given 80% of the attendees came from outside the region.

“The festival is growing and every year more people are interested to be part of it.

“It is great to have the support of the community and the public.”

The Bluff Oyster and Food Festival will be held on Saturday, May 23.

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