A taste of the sea: it's oyster dredging season
Falmouth Oyster Festival celebrates the start of the oyster dredging season, the diversity and quality of Cornish Seafood and one of the last remaining traditional oyster fisheries.
Every year, a cookery master-class from a celebrity chef, followed by a book signing opens the festival. Packed with cookery demonstrations by leading local chefs, oysters, seafood, wine and local ale, children's shell painting, sea shanties, a town parade, and live music, an oyster shucking competition, a Falmouth Working Boat race and marquees brimming with Cornish produce; the festival is a must for all oyster, seafood and maritime heritage enthusiasts.
The oyster season runs from October to March in Falmouth. The start of the season is celebrated by The Falmouth Oyster Festival, the end of the season by The Oyster Gathering.
Oyster gathering is an important part of Falmouth’s maritime heritage with Cornish families deriving their livelihood from the industry for centuries. Many of the oyster boats were built at boatyards around the Fal, with some of the oldest boats dating back as far as 1860. It is, however, an industry that is becoming increasingly fragile. "In 1908 there were 128 oyster boats," says Chris Ranger, local oyster gatherer. "Now there are 10".
The unique taste of the Fal oyster is said to come from the rich mineral and biological content of the water in the area; salty and sweet with flavours of lettuce and cucumber. It also has a light copper finish. Some of the top Chefs in the UK are fans as the oysters landed by Chris Ranger end up on plates at some of the most prestigious restaurants in the UK.