Hastings Herring Fair: Everything you need to know about the big event this weekend

Herring Fair, Hastings. SUS-171118-140558001
Herring Fair, Hastings. SUS-171118-140558001

Organised by Hastings Borough Council - the seventh annual Hastings Herring Fair takes place at the Stade Open Space in Hastings Old Town on Saturday November 17 and Sunday 18.

It takes place from 11am to 4pm. Entrance is free, and it is all held undercover in a cosy marquee.

The Hastings fishing fleet have been catching herring off local shores since at least the 1600s, when records began. Come and celebrate the undervalued ‘silver darling of the sea’ in its many wondrous forms, from bloaters to buckling and kippers, as well as other seasonal local fish.

Chef CJ Jackson, from the Billingsgate School, will be back to deliver cooking demonstrations in the Classroom on the Coast on Saturday 17 November. These special classes will teach you how to souse, roll, sour and smoke herrings, with plenty of tastings.

On Sunday 18 November 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 be many stalls 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 stage there will be non-stop live music with a folky flavour, to include shanty singers, bands and a ceilidh dance with eight piece Sugar Loaf Band on Sunday afternoon.

In the fishermen’s area you’ll be able to try your hand at traditional skills such as net making, witness the annual blessing of the nets at 12 noon on Sunday, and find out about local marine archaeology. And in Stade Hall there will be face painting and free craft activities for children.

Here is the full programme for both days:

Saturday:

11.15 am – 11:45am The Dead Rabbits. A local band 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. CJ Jackson, CEO of The Seafood School at Billingsgate, and the Hastings Fish brand Ambassador, 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 basis so don’t miss out as these are very popular.

12:15pm – 1:00pm: The Kimberleys. Back by popular demand, The Kimberleys have recorded with folk icons Gordon Giltrap, Andy Cutting and Dave Swarbrick (Fairport Convention). They’ve toured and performed with Wolfscote (Telegraph Best Folk Albums, producer Jim Kimberley), Julie Felix and cult acid folk innovators Comus.

1:15pm – 2:00pm: 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 heaven! Listen out for some great old folk classics and some Shanty Songs of the Seven Seas.

2:30pm – 4:00pm: Hastings Fish Cooking Demo – Classroom on the Coast. See 12 noon above for details

3:00pm – 4:00pm: The Cushty Acoustic Trio. A three piece acoustic spin off from 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:

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.

12 noon – 12:30pm: Blessing the Nets. An age-old Hastings tradition of Blessing the Nets re-visited.

12 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.

2:00pm: 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 - an eight 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.

More details of all festival events can be found at www.visit1066country.com/fishfestivals.