Eyrescapes Art Exhibition at the Memorial Hall made a return to the Oysterfest in 2015, and was extremely successful with a record 44 high-quality entries across several media and around 80 visitors to the exhibition on opening night. The non-acquisitive Exhibition had $3,000 in prizes awarded on the Thursday evening prior to Oysterfest, and attracted artists from across western Eyre Peninsula.
Festival Friday aimed to involve the Poynton Street traders in a market-style event with a half-street closure, the CBTA seafood tasting, tables for people to sit down and eat, demonstrations of Oyster opening and fish-filleting, face-painting, live music and a drop-in hoop workshop with our Fire & Silk artists. Unfortunately the 35° temperatures and northerly winds made the CBD very hot and substantially reduced patronage of Festival Friday, however those who attended enjoyed the activities and the CBTA were happy with their operation, once again giving away lots of complimentary local seafood.
The Ceduna Foreshore Hotel hosted the Oysterfest Opening Dinner for around 150 guests, who were welcomed by Mermaid Mizuko after being impressed at the main entrance by the fire twirling of festival guest-artists Sparky and Lucina. Many cars drove past the Hotel to see the fire artists perform, and they had a very appreciative audience! The Ceduna Business & Tourism Association announced local pharmacy employee Nat Bergmann as Employee of the Year, and Ceduna Foodland as Business of the Year. Foodland generously donated their $5,000 prize money to the Oysterfest Ambassadors to be shared equally amongst their sponsoring Charities.
Oysterfest Ambassador Tameika Schultz, representing the Ceduna Hospital Village Auxiliary was announced as the highest fundraiser and named ‘Oysterfest Ambassador’ for 2015. She was sashed tearfully by the 2013 Oysterfest Ambassador and current individual fundraising record-holder, Kath Dunn, who was also part of Tameika’s fundraising committee. Together the Ambassadors raised almost $58,000, with Tameika accounting for over $21,000 of this. Guests dined on local produce including oysters, prawns and scallops, and were entertained by Adelaide’s ‘Pulse Band’.
A silent auction was held during the evening, raising almost $3,000 for the festival using donated items, flights and accommodation vouchers. The highest individual amount paid was for a stunning glass wall hanging by local artist Cindy Durant, which was purchased by a delighted resident.
Meanwhile 150 people were being entertained at the inaugural ‘Shuck’n Loud’ event, where three Eyre Peninsula bands featured in the program alongside a ‘Lip-synch battle’. G-man from CAAMA radio emceed the event, which was well received.
With an expected top of around 38°C for the Saturday, misting fans were placed in the McEvoy Marquee and other key locations in an effort to reduce the heat-stress for visitors. A fun run/walk left the Sailing Club to make its way to Pinky Point lookout. Many visitors looked around the site early before heading down to Poynton Street for the Parade, which didn’t disappoint! Chris Sperou flew over the town with an aerobatics display before 22 floats took to the street as part of this years Oysterfest Parade. Over a thousand people lined up to watch the parade as the temperature increased, then followed it down to the Oysterfest site and the McEvoy Marquee where an official opening ceremony was held. Cecelia Cox welcomed visitors to the region on behalf of the local Wirangu aboriginal people, while Mayor Allan Suter declared the event open in the Oyster Capital of Australia!
DanCeduna performed an encore of their ‘Ceduna’s Got Talent’ concert in the McEvoy Marquee while other activities got underway around the site.
The Thevenard Fish Processors Fish Filleting Competition proved rather popular and was taken out this year by local lady Marelin Matthews, following in the recent tradition of women performing well against the men in this competition. Kids had fun in the sandcastle building competition while the Bright Youth Foundation Ambassadors Cam Ellis-Yolmen and Tijmarri Milera led youth in AFL and sprint based activities. Sparky and Lucina started the first of their on-site apparatus based workshops and aerosol artist Seb Humphries commenced his project on the public toilet facility in the Don Urquhart carpark.
While all this and more was happening, the Oysters had started flowing from the Far West Oyster Growers Marquee and more local seafood from the Blues Fish & Chippery, complementing the wide variety of other food options on offer. As the temperature climbed and we got closer to the AFL Grand Final kick-off there was a noticeable drop in patrons at the Oysterfest site. Many had retreated to the Ceduna Foreshore Hotel to watch the game on the large screens of their Sports bar in air-conditioned comfort, or elsewhere away from the heat, but many stayed to watch the outside big screen or to watch the cooking demonstrations.
The title of Biggest Oyster was won by Bruce Zippell of Zippells Oysters with some fierce competition from other growers and 13 entries, although the rather puny 70mm x 55mm entry of another local grower left people wondering what competition they thought they were entering! All in all the competition was held in great spirit with lots of interest from visitors and it was a great opportunity for growers to talk to them about the life cycle of Oysters and farming operations in the local area.
Music continued into the evening, while the temperature reduced enough for Chris Sperou to take his aerobatics plane up for another display. The Sailing Club hosted 300 guests at their 50th Anniversary Dinner, and the site closed around 8pm. Ceduna Foreshore Hotel had live entertainment in their front bar for those who wished to kick on into the night.
With daylight savings commencing on Sunday morning, there was an hour less sleep for those who were up early for the Church Service in the McEvoy Marquee. Between 150-200 people attended the service, which was their largest audience for many years. The Ceduna 4EvaFit Topsy Turvy Triathlon was undertaken by the adventurous few who attempted the shortened ride, swim and run course either individually or as a team.
Artists, musicians and stall-holders were once again looking after the patrons who slowly filtered into the site. Magician Dane Certificate made his first appearance at the Oysterfest and gained quite a following for his two performances. The traditional arts sharing circle was a new addition to the festival, and created interest with visitors and residents alike. Many children competed in the Iced Coffee Holding Competition, and the adults version, the Stein Hold, although hotly contested did not produce any surprises. Darren Hocking (10 minutes) and Tricia Bubner (4:38) once again took out their respective classes.
The kids Afternoon Tea Party proved very popular, attracting a crowd of around 60 children and their parents for cupcakes, story telling with Mermaid Mizuko, music and dancing with Cool4Kids and craft activities. Fire & Silk artists Sparky and Lucina performed a combined fire show with apparatus and hoops, along with Isis wings and aerial silks in the McEvoy Marquee to a spellbound audience of 200 people. Thankfully the heat did not reach its expected top, although it was still almost 34° at its peak, and crowds didn’t seem greatly different from previous years.
Having sold out of their Oyster stocks by 4pm on Sunday, with a total of 24,000 molluscs sold across the weekend, the Oyster Growers had closed their marquee and were hopefully getting a bit of a rest while people found other fare. Another stall holder had to close for a while in the afternoon to enable them to restock, as they had completely sold out, but were ready for the late afternoon and evening trade.
Our signature event, the Oyster Shuck & Eat competition was the centre of attention in the McEvoy Marquee with last years winners Rose McArthur and James Paues being in separate teams this time around, but both made the final. James and his sister-in-law Dana proved unbeatable however, and managed to improve on the record from 2014 registering a time of 1:23”.
The evening rolled in and our closing concert featuring ex-pat Ceduna artists Jodi Martin and Jason Lee Scott drew an appreciative crowd of around 500, and visiting performers the Fiddlechicks and Pulse book-ended the evening’s musical entertainment. A spectacular sunset set the stage on the beach for Sparky and Lucina, who performed with fire and LED hoop before the Events South Australia Fireworks Spectacular lit up the night sky over Murat Bay.
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