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Following the recent announcement that this year’s 25th Hillsborough International Oyster Festival was cancelled due to funding arrangements, a group of businesspeople from the Hillsborough area have joined forces to host the UPU Plough Fest, a mini festival designed to keep the spirit of the Oyster Festival alive in this ‘gap’ year.

The Plough Inn – owned by Derek, Richard and William Patterson – have joined together with Hillsborough native Philip Orr, Chief Executive of UPU Industries, to stage the event which is scheduled to take place from Thursday 24th – Saturday 26th August at The Plough Inn and will raise funds for next year’s Hillsborough International Oyster Festival.

Derek Patterson, co-owner of The Plough Inn, a founder of the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival and UPU Plough Fest organiser said, “We are lucky to live in a stunning Georgian town and for the last 25 years the people who live here have built the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival into a world renowned event. We don’t want to let the spirit of the festival slip away from Hillsborough, and although we can’t make the main festival happen this year, together as a community we can make sure it returns next year – bigger and better.”

Phillip Orr, Chief Executive of UPU Industries, which is known for its high quality ‘Farmer’s’ range of crop packaging solutions added, “The Hillsborough International Oyster Festival has gone from strength to strength over the years, attracting thousands of visitors from across the UK, Ireland and further afield, but the event remains in essence a community festival, UPU Industries is delighted to take on the role as lead sponsor to help ensure the future success of the festival.”

Philip continued, “As a Hillsborough resident, the history and heritage of the event is very important to us, and through our role as lead sponsor we will bring The Gala Ball to the original setting of The Plough Inn on the Friday night. This will be a momentous occasion to celebrate the Silver Jubilee year of the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival.”

Commenting on the commitment to this local festival shown by two Hillsborough-area businesses, Andrew Wilson, Chair of the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival organising committee said, “At its heart, the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival has always been a community event. We are delighted that local businesses have stepped up to support the festival, and the committee is also working hard to generate funds for the successful delivery of the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival in 2018.”

Activities at the event will include, a pop-up restaurant hosted by internationally renowned Brazilian chef, Andre Lima Luca (Thursday 24th), a salsa evening complete with mojitos on the Friday, plus the main ‘Gin and Jazz’ event on Saturday – kicking off at 1pm. Guests can enjoy some of the finest local craft gins and take on the UPU Oyster Eating Challenge from 1pm to devour one dozen oysters and a pint of the black stuff, with the fastest person taking home a £1,000 cash prize. Saturday’s activities will continue late into the night with three live bands lined up to lead the festivities for this ‘festival with a cause’ in The Plough Inn.

“We look forward to welcoming local guests as well as foodies from across the UK and Ireland who are keen to experience the legacy of the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival and share in the thriving village spirit which surrounds Hillsborough,” added Derek Patterson.

The UPU Plough Fest is supported by leading businesses and organisations with strong ties to the Hillsborough area including Phoenix Natural Gas, Bodel, Dillon Bass, Coca Cola, Diageo, Schweppes, Hannan Meats, and Direct Wine Shipments. Tickets can be purchased for The UPU Plough Fest by contacting The Plough at: +44 (0) 2892 682 985. Early booking is recommended.

To enter the Oyster Eating Challenge contact Tim McKee at

For further event information please visit