Community ready for Karuah Oyster and Timber Festival on October 21

PREPARED: Stephen Cole and Dean Cole in Longworth Park where the Karuah Oyster and Timber Festival will be staged on October 21. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts
PREPARED: Stephen Cole and Dean Cole in Longworth Park where the Karuah Oyster and Timber Festival will be staged on October 21. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

It is “all systems go” for the largest event on the Karuah community’s calendar – the annual oyster and timber festival.

About 5000 people turned out to last year’s festival, which organised by a group of residents and business owners to bring the community together, breathe life into the town and to celebrate the industries it was founded upon.

“It gets bigger and bigger every year,” Stephen Cole, an organiser of the festival, said.

“It’s the biggest event in Karuah. The whole community is abuzz the whole weekend. We love it.”

The 2017 Karuah Oyster and Timber Festival will be held in Longworth Park on Saturday, October 21.

Mr Cole and his brother, Dean, who together own Cole Bros Oysters, not only help to organise the festival but are sponsors.

The pair supply the oysters for one of the festival drawcard events – the oyster eating competition.

Close to 180 people went into the draw for the competition last year, vying for one of the 15 spots available.

Hopeful participants donate a gold coin and go into a draw. The 15 competitors are selected on the morning of the festival.

In heats of five people, competitors down a dozen oysters. The person with the fastest time goes into the final.

In the final, competitors eat two dozen oysters. The person with the fastest time wins.

The winner takes home an accommodation package to BIG4 Karuah Jetty Holiday Park.

“It was a huge hit last year,” Mr Cole said. “It’s an absolute classic to watch.”

Another big aspect of the festival is the woodchopping.

More than 30 people took part in the woodchopping last year. And with festival organisers opening this year’s competition to novices, even greater numbers are expected to try their saws and axes in the events.

Australian woodchopping champion Brad De Losa is a regular to the Karuah Oyster and Timber Festival. It is anticipated he will return this year.

The first woodchopping event of the day will be held at 10am. The final events will be held in the Karuah RSL Club from 5pm.

The Karuah Motor Yacht Club will once again hold a junior fishing competition on the day of the festival. Sign ups are at 8am near the jetty.

The other festival drawcard event, the great Karuah River Duck Race, is scheduled for 2pm. However, time is dependant on the tide.

Ducks cost $5 to sponsor. At a certain time during the day the ducks – about 300 of them – are tipped off the Karuah Bridge. 

The first numbered duck to float across the finish line about 200 meters down the river wins.

The festival will also include a car display, live performances and entertainment, markets and food stalls. There will be a children’s activity tent and Port Stephens fishing identity John “Stinker” Clarke will be in attendance with his latest book.

Koala Ferries will be running between Soldiers Point Marina and Karuah. Pick ups are scheduled for 9am and noon. Returns are scheduled for 3pm and 5pm.