Festival has seafood in the bag

Scallop festival celebrates 10 years

CLAIRE FITZJAMES
Last updated 11:49 01/09/2014
Whitianga Scallop Festival.
SUPPLIED

HOT WATER BEACH LIFEGUARDS: Gary Hinds and Wayne Bourne shuck their way through a mountain of molluscs at a previous Whitianga Scallop Festival.

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How do you prefer your scallops?

Scallop and crispy pork belly lotus bun with pickled greens? Yorkshire puddings filled with scallop mornay? Or classically presented in the shell sauteed with garlic and wine?

Whichever way you prefer them, the Whitianga Scallop Festival will be serving up about 100,000 scallops in many delicious ways on September 6.

Now into its 10th year, festival director Fiona Kettlewell believes this will be the best yet with celebrity chefs Ray McVinnie, Julies Biuso and Josh Emmett offering cooking demonstrations for food lovers.

"Getting to a 10-year anniversary for any festival regardless of where it is in New Zealand is an achievement in itself," she said.

It was 10 years ago when Tairua's Carl Muir took the idea of showcasing Mercury Bay's marine heritage to Tourism Coromandel.

The festival has only become more popular every year.

The first scallop festival in 2005 drew a crowd of 3000. Five years later numbers more than doubled to 6500, but have been limited to 4500 for the past three years.

"We brought the numbers down as we found it got too big, and to bring it back to being a niche festival celebrating all things seafood, Whitianga, and the Coromandel Peninsula," Kettlewell said.

This year about 420 people will be behind the 70 food and craft stalls, 25 volunteers and 28 security staff to ensure the event will be its best yet.

So far ticket sales have been popular with Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato residents.

"I have a lady from Tennessee, United States, who specifically changed her itinerary and everything around for the festival," Kettlewell said.

The festival would not be a success if it was not for the dedicated committee, she said.

"They have put a lot of time and effort into the festival - they give up their business time to help put this festival together."

Linda and Darrell Bird, Dave Simmonds, Peter Abrahamson, Shirley Wilson and Dianne Eccles have been involved in the organising of this year's event. There are a small number of tickets still available. Go to scallopfestival.co.nz.

claire.fitzjames@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

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- Waikato Times

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