Herring Fair celebrates the ‘silver darlings’ of the sea

The Herring Fair returns at the weekend, a fantastic free event on the Stade open space, in the heart of Hastings’ historic Old Town.

The Hastings fishing fleet have been catching herring since records began, over 400 years ago. The Herring Fair celebrates the now undervalued ‘silver darlings of the sea’ in their many forms, including bloaters, buckling and kippers.

Festival organiser Stella Landau explained: “This is our eighth Herring Fair, and it promises to be a great weekend. As well as delicious fish dishes, stalls will be selling local produce, wines, ciders, hot food, and beers for every palate, with the bar run by Harvey’s. Most of the event is undercover, although there will be trailers outside too.

“There will be plenty of entertainment too, with a musical line up with a folky flavour, including a ceilidh and of course sea shanties. Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society will be present and their stall will include a display of traditional net making. Tush and Pat Hamilton will be sharing their knowledge of this versatile and underused fish with demonstrations in the marquee throughout the day – showing you how to clean, prepare, cook and eat herring.

CJ Jackson at last year’s Herring Fair

“CJ Jackson, the principal of the Billingsgate Seafood school and Sunday Brunch star, is our Hastings fish ambassador and she will be demonstrating herring recipes in the Classroom on the Coast at noon and 2.30 pm both days over the weekend. These are free, but are very popular and filled on a first come first served basis, so don’t be late!

“And there will be the traditional blessing of the nets at 1230 on Sunday.

“A new addition this year is a Sunday jazz breakfast with Mike Hatchard and friends. Doors open at 9am for a 9.30 start. Ticket prices include a hot drink and a fishermen’s roll. Tickets are £13 adult, £10 children, available in advance from the Hastings Tourist Information Centre.

“Because the event can get busy, and there are children and very hot equipment around, only assist dogs are allowed into the marquee.

“The event does cost the Foreshore Trust a lot to put on, and although we’ve decided not to charge this year, we will be collecting donations.

“The Herring Fair is open from 11am until 4 pm both days, do come and pay us a visit; you won’t be disappointed!”

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