ORGANISERS of the Stranraer Oyster Festival have seen record crowd numbers during the three-day event in South West Scotland celebrating the wild, native oysters of Loch Ryan.

This community-led event launched in 2017 has since consistently outperformed the previous year.

The festival is credited with "changing the story of Stranraer" from one of economic decline to one of tourism opportunity.

With chef demonstrations and local producers, people from across the UK came to enjoy more than a tonne of oysters between the September 15 to 17.

The shells have been collected and they will now be cleaned, weathered and then returned to Loch Ryan next summer as "cultch" – shell material for habitat creation – to help the native oyster bed grow.

Romano Petrucci, chair of Stranraer Development Trust, the community organisation that runs the festival, said: “Stranraer Oyster Festival has truly come of age.

“Each year we aim for bigger and better and we were hugely ambitious about what the 2023 festival could deliver for Stranraer, but the success of this year’s event has surpassed my wildest dreams.

“We now need to think very seriously about how we nurture and develop the potential of this festival, because what this weekend has shown us is that the potential is very considerable indeed.”

Independent economic analysis has demonstrated that the festival has generated almost £5 million for the local economy so far, supporting hundreds of jobs, showcasing multiple local businesses and organisations, providing volunteering and training opportunities for members of the community, and stimulating tourism development in the area.

Petrucci said: “Stranraer Oyster Festival is a whole-community effort.

“This event is community-led regeneration in action and it has become a catalyst for the transformation of our town.

“Our festival shows what Stranraer can achieve when we work together as one.

“Each year you can feel the confidence and pride within our community rise higher and higher, it’s an absolute joy to experience.”

Commenting on social media after the festival, Felicity Cloake, Guardian food columnist and author, said: “This festival is exactly the kind of thing we need more of: a great big community party to celebrate south-west Scotland’s world-class seafood, and generally come together and have a good time.”

This year Shucking Champion was Glasgow-based chef Gordon Reekie, co-founder of That’s Yer Dinner.

He will now go on to represent Scotland at the World Championships in Galway later this month.

The dates for next year’s event have been confirmed as Friday, September 13 to Sunday, September 15.

Organisers are encouraging people interested in travelling to attend the festival to book their accommodation early to secure local availability.

More information can be found at