Visitors and stallholders to the Herring Fair held on The Stade open space at the weekend say it was the best one yet.
Thousands of people flocked to the event that was organised by Hastings Borough Council (HBC) to help support the local fishing industry and also to encourage more people to visit the town out of season.
As well as stalls selling herring there were cookery demonstrations in the Classroom on the Coast by CJ Jackson, the chief executive of The Billingsgate Seafood School and star of the Sunday Brunch show; herring filleting demonstrations by ‘Tush’ Hamilton; net making demonstrations by local fisherman Richard Read; the traditional net blessing ceremony, conducted by Fr Luke Irvine-Capel; and live music throughout the weekend from local artists.
Council leader Councillor Peter Chowney opened the fair, he said: “The Herring Fair is my favourite of the Hastings fish fairs, it has a more intimate atmosphere because it’s all undercover. And entry is free. We’ve had some really great feedback on the weekend, the weather was perfect – bright, crisp, sunshine – and it was probably the busiest Herring Fair we have ever had.
“Not only is it a great visitor attraction, it’s got a serious point too. Our fishery, comprised entirely of small, under ten metre boats, struggles with quota, and is also vulnerable to bad weather. Herring is less popular than it used to be and although undervalued is a seriously versatile fish. Promoting its use helps the local fishing industry, and the local economy.
“It also helps us promote our local product, many sellers were proud to display the Hastings fish brand.
“I’d like to thank the HBC staff, stallholders, musicians and visitors who made the Herring Fair the success it was.”
There were stalls selling local wine, beer and cider, various local produce, as well as locally caught herring, locally smoked kippers, buckling and bloaters. There was also live music all through the weekend.
During the Herring Fair three cheques for £1,500 each, some of the proceeds of Hastings Week, were presented to Hastings Sea Cadets, Hastings’ Lifeboat crew and Pett Rescue by the town’s Mayor, Councillor Nigel Sinden.