Fresh local oysters could not be shucked fast enough for the eager crowds at the 2022 Narooma Oyster Festival on May 6 and 7.
More than 9500 people attended the event over the two days, travelling from all over the state in what for many is an annual pilgrimage to the festival. More than 64,000 oysters were consumed over the two days.
"2022 was an absolute triumph," festival director Cath Peachey said.
The event included cooking masterclasses from celebrity chefs Colin Fassnidge, Toby Worthington and Kelly Eastwood; MC-ed by former Masterchef contestant Courtney Roulston.
Stephen Nolan, reigning World Oyster Shucking Champion sky-dived in to the Festival to judge the Australian Oyster Shucking competition, won by Batemans Bay's Jim Yiannaros (by one tenth of a second) and Greenwell Point's Sally McLean.
Both domestic champions then raced off against Mr Nolan, with Mr Yiannaros upsetting the champion.
Mr Yiannaros said rock oysters could be harder to shuck than other oysters from around the world, and his home-town advantage had made all the difference.
"I have been shucking these oysters since I was four years old," he said.
Mr Nolan said the atmosphere and crowd at the event was the best he had ever seen at an oyster shucking festival.
"One of my favourite things about the festival was seeing thousands of people eating and enjoying oysters, I've never seen that before," Mr Nolan said.
It was first time at the Oyster Festival for Olivia and Damian West from Orange. They participated in the Oyster Masterclass session run by judges from the Sydney Royal Easter Show, taking participants through the differences in oysters and teaching them how to pick the best oysters.
Mr West was already a big oyster fan.
"Now I am a more educated and addicted oyster eater," he said.
Dalmeny-local Tim Whitehead said it was fantastic to see the community bouncing back after a tough period to throw their full support behind the event.
Why does he come each year?
"Good people, good oysters, a good view - it is a great community event," Mr Whitehead said.
A group of six Sydney-siders relaxed around a portable picnic table covered in local oysters, cheeses and wines.
"It was so much fun last time we had to come back this year," the group said. They will keep coming back, enjoying a south coast weekend retreat for the festival every year.
On the other side of the main crowd, two Jervis Bay locals reclined on a picnic rug on the sand overlooking Wagonga Inlet. Tracy and Lisa had no motivation to leave for the entire day. Though it was their first time at the Festival, they said it would absolutely not be there last.
The 2023 Narooma Oyster Festival will be held on May 5 and 6.
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