Festival returns with full line-up

The Bluff Oyster & Food Festival is back.

It takes place in Bluff this Saturday and the organising committee has brought together a great range of food and beverage stalls, the hugely popular oyster events and a great day of musical entertainment.

Gates open at 10.30am and at 11am the iconic Bluff oyster will be piped on to the site by the Invercargill Highland Pipe Band.

The Ode to the Oyster will then be recited on the main stage and the festival is officially open. A full day of musical entertainment will follow while in Shed 3, the infamous oyster events will take place with seafood and other food offerings galore around the venue.

There will be Bluff oysters, plenty more succulent southern seafood, other great food options, a choice of beverages and a day of entertainment.

The Bluff oyster never fails to be the star of the show and as always there will be plenty available – raw, cooked, oyster shots, however you like them.

There is so much more with other succulent seafood offerings including shellfish. From Stewart Island come their mussel kebabs, a favourite from years gone by and also smoked mussels. Seafood platters are another treat in store. Sea urchins (kina), seafood chowder, prawns, paua, blue cod, whitebait, crayfish, squid and more. If you are not a seafood fan, there will be choices such as pork belly burgers, venison and bacon burgers, guacamole and corn chips and hot meat sandwiches.

The hugely popular oyster events start at 12.30pm in Shed 3. The oyster opening races will be first up with the professionals showing the amazing speed and skills they possess. With races for men, women, novices plus a factory relay race and a blindfold event, there will be plenty of entertainment.

In the men’s category, Ricci Grant returns to defend his title having won the last time the festival was held in 2021. Grant also won the title in 2019.

Competitors shuck oysters blindfolded during the 2018 Bluff Oyster & Food Festival.
Competitors shuck oysters blindfolded during the 2018 Bluff Oyster & Food Festival.
Vic Pearsey, who won the women’s title 10 years in a row, has stuck to her word that her 10th success in 2021 was her last time in the individual events but she will take part in the factory relay race as part of the Barnes Wild Oysters Team.

Following the oyster opening events the oyster eating races will take place with members of the crowd being invited to take part armed with a humble toothpick.

Musical entertainment is a feature and as patrons enter the site they will be welcomed by the Mapu-Kuki-Airani Rarotongan drummers.

After official opening, the entertainment will start at 11.20am with the Bluff School kapa haka group entertaining until 11.45am when SIT Sounz, comprising of music students from the School of Contemporary Music at SIT, take to the stage.

At 12.45pm, In The Pocket, a collaborative band forged in the deep south, consisting of drummer Metua Marama, bass player Asher Skerrett, guitarist Darcy Kerr, and vocalist Maia Pereiha-Fletcher will bring their repertoire from classic old-school hits to modern bangers followed by the Polynesian drummers who return for a dance off at 1.45pm.

Singer-songwriter Jackie Bristow is next up at on stage at 2.30pm. Bristow’s musical journey has taken her from Gore to Australia and then to the United States and her adopted home of Nashville.

2018 Southland Entertainer of the Year Lachie Hayes follows at 3.30pm with a few buddies known as the Tokanui Chainsaw Massacre before the last act at 4.30pm, Sea Beast, a Dunedin band featuring Andy P Parsons, the guitarist and lead singer, now returned to New Zealand after a stint in New York and Callum Hampton of The Chills and Left or Right fame.

Eftpos is available at the festival but use of credit cards is not, so it is recommended visitors get sufficient cash before travelling to Bluff.

Go Bus will operate a return bus service throughout the day right to the festival gate. Services leave Invercargill at 9.45am, 10.45am and 11.45am and traverse two routes which are within walking distance from most Invercargill accommodation providers. The routes are listed at www.bluffoysterfest.co.nz

Services return at 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm and 6.30pm. The return trip costs $30 and bookings are not required.

Since it was announced only in March that the 2024 festival would be proceeding, the festival committee has been working extremely hard to bring together another successful event as they prepare for their first festival since 2021.