Seafood festival will give Anglesey taste of economic success

The popular Menai Seafood Festival will pump more than £300,000 into the local economy on Anglesey.

After a successful launch last year, the second festival is expected to attract more than 10,000 foodies to the island.

The free, three-day event starting in Menai Bridge starting on Friday (August 29) will showcase the abundance of seafood off the shores of Anglesey with cooking demonstrations by Michelin star chef Bryan Webb and Neil Davies, head chef at Dylan’s Seafood Restaurant.

The festival will also include a local produce market, art and craft, music, along with activities for youngsters, including children’s cookery workshops by Dai Chef from Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, and his daughter Meg.

On top of that, there will be concerts by the world-renowned harpist, Catrin Finch, and Anglesey singer Elin Flur.

According to organiser David Evans, from Dylan’s Restaurant, the backing of Gaerwen-based Peninsula Home Improvements and their other sponsors was vital.

He said: “We have extended the event to three days, after last year’s inaugural festival proved so successful. We are expecting around 10,000 people, mostly those who live locally or are on holiday in the area.

“We are very grateful to the support of the local community, especially companies such as Peninsula Home Improvements for their sponsorship, which has helped the event go ahead.

“The festival will be a big boost to the local area and really showcase the wonderful seafood that’s on offer here.”

Lorraine Grayson, a director of Peninsula Home Improvements, said they were delighted to be sponsoring the festival.

She said: “We are very much a community-based company and we believe wholeheartedly in giving something back to the area where we are based.

“The inaugural Menai Seafood Festival was a massive hit and we are pleased to have the opportunity to help the event build on that success.

“It works extremely well on a culinary level and it will transform Anglesey into the seafood capital of the UK for three days.

“Importantly, too, it will generate a major economic boost for the area with an estimated £315,000 being spent in the locality by people attending the festival.”

Another attraction this year will be the £2 million research ship, the Prince Madog.

The vessel owned by Bangor University has been assessing the numbers of scallops in North Wales waters, and will be moored at Menai Pier during the festival.

Lorraine Grayson and event organiser David Evans got a sneak preview on board the state-of-the-art purpose built ship.

Lorraine added: “I’ve often seen the ship, either moored up or operating off the coast of North Wales, and always wondered what it was like inside – plus what it’s doing. As far as I knew, it was just about training undergraduates.

“Going on board has been a real eye-opener – it’s a floating laboratory. They carry out some very serious scientific research, which is of help to everybody who spends time in the waters around North Wales, whether professionally or for fun, as a fisherman, sailor, diver or kayaker.

“The ship and the scientists on board are also closely involved with assessing the seafood to be harvested in these waters – and as an avid fan of seafood, that’s very close to my heart.

“The Peninsula Home Improvements pod will be next to the Prince Madog during the festival -which is quite fitting, as the company actually grew out of a boatyard. Barrie Grayson, father of the company’s CEO Ken, had a boatyard at Abersoch and started to make windows back in 1984 as a way of retaining the carpenters. From that came Peninsula Windows and today we’re a very successful company, employing 22 people, with a new showroom in Gaerwen.”

The Prince Madog will welcome land-lubbers on Saturday August 30 – though only around 400 people will be able to go on board, at set time slots with the free tickets available on the day from Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences stand.

The School will also be open to the public and potential students, with interactive displays linked to the work presently been carried out by the vessel, which was commissioned by Bangor University using a £2.8 Joint Infrastructure Fund Grant.

It has just docked after time spent tracking the seabed off Anglesey, checking the physical and biological impact of the Crown Estates’ plans for pilot schemes to harness tidal flows to create renewable energy, said Professor Michel Kaiser from the School of Ocean Sciences.

“We are looking at the sea bed to discover if it is physically able to take the platforms needed, and also looking at the biological impact on organisms that may be affected by the tidal turbines.

“We have just completed an assessment of the scallop population in Welsh waters, which will form a part of an official report in autumn.

“A lot of our work takes place off the North Wales coast and around the Irish Sea, though this summer we went to the west coast of Scotland to examine the sea-bed clams – some of them can live to more than 500 years. Our other work includes examining horse mussels, which live to 30 or 40 years, in reefs off the Llyn peninsula.

“It is very rare that we are able to invite the general public on board. We do sometimes arrange tours for small groups, but we’ve never done this before. It will be linked to the university’s open day, to show the work of the School, and encourage people to consider studying with us.”

More details of what’s happening are at A video of the inside of the Prince Madog is available on the festival Facebook page.

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