Bluff Oyster & Food Festival committee celebrates ten years at the helm
Ten years ago the residents of Bluff won the fight to retain the oyster festival and they built something that has grown beyond their expectations.
This weekend, thousands will descend on the humble seaside town to sample the bounty of seafood pulled from the southern seas.
The festival was a sell out again this year with some 4000 tickets completely snapped up two months out from the event.
Chairman John Edminstin has been at the helm of the organising committee for 10 years and says the success has been due to the fact they kept it in local hands.
In 2007, the previous organisers Venture Southland were concerned at the viability of the event and suggested shifting the event to Invercargill.
The Bluff community rallied, a public meeting was called and in December 2007 the decision was made to form a local committee to ensure the festival remained in Bluff.
After the first meeting, the freshly elected chairman Edminstin said he sent away the volunteers with the task: think about the biggest mistakes that had been made in the past.
The committee identified the biggest mistakes, fixed them, and they were on their way to success, he said.
"We kept it un-corporate and everybody just goes along and enjoys themselves."
Committee member Kylie Fowler said the success of the event was due to the determined attitude of the locals who wanted to keep the festival in Bluff.
"I think it was because we were taking the festival into volunteer hands and we really had to prove we could do it."
Looking to the future, they wanted to expand the site and create a bigger event that would attract up to 6000 people, Fowler said.
Invercargill would probably struggle to handle any more people than that, she said.