Hastings’ fishermen have been catching herring off local shores since the 1600s and this weekend sees a celebration of the ‘silver darling of the sea’ as Hastings Herring Fair gets underway.
Organised by Hastings Borough Council (HBC), this will be the seventh annual Hastings Herring Fair and is taking place at the Stade Open Space in Hastings over the whole weekend.
The whole weekend is about encouraging local people to appreciate the herring in its many wondrous forms, from bloaters to buckling and kippers, as well as coming to appreciate other seasonal local fish.
“The Hastings Herring Fair is always a great event and we’re pleased to once again be celebrating this versatile fish,” says Councillor Kim Forward HBC’s lead member for regeneration and culture.
“C.J. Jackson sponsored by Hastings Fish will be here to deliver cooking demonstrations in the Classroom on the Coast on Saturday (Nov 17th). These special classes will teach those attending how to souse, roll, sour and smoke herrings, with plenty of opportunity for tasting.
“On Sunday there will be more cooking demonstrations, from St Leonards restaurant The Thai House and cookery consultant and author, Silla Bjerrum.”
Throughout both days there will bestalls offering mouth-watering fish dishes, vegetarian options and local wine, together with a beer festival run by the First in Last Out (FILO) public house.
On the stage there will be non-stop live music with a folky flavour, to include shanty singers, bands and a ceilidh dance. In the fishermen’s area you’ll be able to try your hand at traditional skills such as net making and witness the annual blessing of the nets at noon on Sunday. There will also be the chance to find out about local marine archaeology. In Stade Hall there will be face painting and free craft activities for children.
The Herring Fair takes place on Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm. Entrance is free, and it is held undercover in a cosy marquee. Full details of all festival events can be found at www.visit1066country.com/fishfestivals.
Full programme of events
Saturday 17 November 11am – 4pm
11.15 am – 11:45am The Dead Rabbits
The Herring Fair weekend kicks off with a set from local band The Dead Rabbits. While retaining a rock/blues sound, their current guise sees them focussing on music from the 70s and 80s.
12 noon – 1:30pm Hastings Fish Cooking Demo – Classroom on the Coast
Learn to create seasonal fish dishes using our local catch. Sponsored by Hastings Fish. C.J. Jackson – CEO of The Seafood School at Billingsgate and the Ambassador for the Hastings Fish brand – will be creating a number of recipes to celebrate the herring that include: cider-soused herrings, rollmops, herring ceviche, oatmeal herrings, home-smoked kippers, and herring roe on toast with parsley and capers. Demonstrations last 90 minutes and are on a first come first served and are expected to be very popular.
12:15pm – 1pm The Kimberleys
Back by popular demand, The Kimberleys have recorded with folk icons Gordon Giltrap, Andy Cutting and Dave Swarbrick of Fairport Convention fame. They’ve toured and performed with Wolfscote (Telegraph Best Folk Albums, producer Jim Kimberley), Julie Felix and cult acid folk innovators Comus.
1:15pm – 2pm The Kayleigh Ann Band
Yet another local Hastings band with a shed-load of talent. Self-penned songs with some imaginative versions of well-known covers. Kayleigh’s rhythmic approach to the guitar, her inspired arrangements and edgy voice, plus her superb young band make this an appearance you can’t miss!
2.15pm – 2:45pm Now & Then
Four singers – no instruments, just pure vocal-harmony. Listen out for some great old folk classics and some shanty songs of the seven seas.
2:30pm – 4pm Hastings Fish Cooking Demo – Classroom on the Coast
See 12 noon above for details
3pm – 4pm The Cushty acoustic trio
A three piece acoustic spin off from a local four piece band from Hastings covering artists from the 60s to the present. Producing up-beat and rhythmic tunes, styles of rock, blues, reggae, funk, Latin and jazz, from bands such as The Jam, Gypsy Kings, Doobie Brothers, The Undertones, Buzzcocks, Bad Company, Bob Marley, Selecter and more…plus a few ‘Cushty’ surprises and cheeky banter!
Sunday 18 November 11am – 4pm
11.15am – 11:45am Now & Then
Back for a second half-hour set this excellent quartet of singers starts Sunday off with some classic folk to four-part harmony Beatles songs. They then move on to the other end of our marquee leading the audience in singing the famous old Hastings Fish Song ‘Shoals of Herrings’ during our Blessing of the Nets Service.
Noon – 12:30pm Blessing the Nets
An age-old Hastings tradition of Blessing the Nets re-visited.
Noon – 1:30pm The Thai House Cooking Demo – Classroom on the Coast
12.45pm – 1:30pm Mylde Steele
Take four accomplished rock musicians and switch them from heavy metal to mylde steel. Solid rock classics with a marvellous acoustic twist.
2pm Silla Bjerrum Cooking Demo – Classroom on the Coast
1.45pm – 2:45pm Jiggery Pokery
A favourite band of this and many festivals around the country – this wonderful trio play a great selection of original and cover material. Singer Stevie Stone heads up this great little band. He’s a brilliant songwriter, and writes a lot about Hastings. Listen out for his superb song The Ghost of Dunkirk – especially written for the Cyril and Lilian Bishop Lifeboat appeal, as well as The Hastings Pier Fire song.
3.15pm – close The Sugar Loaf Band
The ever popular finish to the Hastings Herring Fair – a 13 piece ceilidh band giving you the chance to join in traditional folk dances. We have a ‘caller’ who will tell you exactly what to do. If it is cold inside our marquee this is guaranteed to warm you up!
- To find out more about the Hastings Fish brand, follow these links…