Seafaring mariners of all ages weighed anchor on Bexhill seafront this weekend for the Festival of the Sea.
Relieved organisers welcomed thousands of visitors as Sunday brought stunning weather to the Metropole lawns after an erratic few days of rain.
Packed into stalls ranged along the seafront, local traders cooked up delicious food while experienced anglers gave free lessons to young novices in how to use a beach rod.
Festival organiser Carole Green said the event, a major fixture in Bexhill’s calendar though it has only been running for four years, was the biggest yet, easily on par with last year’s festival which drew 30,000 visitors.
“The atmosphere was fantastic,” she said. “So many people came, and we had some brilliant entertainment. And most of it was local talent.
“A highlight was the sea shanty singers being flanked by mermaids.
“We had people dancing all over the promenade. It was just great.”
Over Saturday and Sunday (September 5-6)local traders showcased their wares, while top chefs from around the country joined local culinary experts in preparing a range of delicious fresh seafood.
The famous Billingsgate Seafood Training School returned to demonstrate the art of filleting, preparing and cooking many types of sea fish.
Spread along the shoreline a host of fishermen competed in seven different categories to win a competition organised by Bexhill Sea Angling Club.
Around the De La Warr Pavilion the Hastings Sea Shanty Singers kept the crowds dancing with a bandstand performance, and more live music was provided by local singer-songwriter Georgia Faye Steele, Loose Ends, folk duo Glashen, and the Balleyregan Boys, among others.
West Parade was packed with families enjoying the rides and games on offer for children. This year the festival’s theme was marine conservation, and workers from Mallydams Wood RSPCA and the Sussex Wildlife Trust, together with the Marine Conservation Society, were on hand with information about how to safely conserve the seafront habitats of local wildlife.
Another highlight for Carole was the atmosphere created this year. “Everybody came together,” she said, pointing out that with a few hours to go local firm Access Scaffolding stepped in to save the day and build a makeshift bridge between the two festival sites.
Carole thanked the festival’s major sponsors, Discover Bexhill and Argh! publishing, as well as Marks and Spensers.
“We have lots of sponsors and we are grateful to every one of them,” she added.
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