Hastings Midsummer Fish Festival

The Stade Open Space, Old Town, Hastings, Saturday, June 20, and Sunday, June 21

FOLLOWING the inaugural event in 2014 the Hastings Midsummer Fish Festival is set to return this weekend.

The event, held in a giant marquee on The Stade Open Space in the centre of Hastings’ historic fishing fleet, mixes foodie stalls and demonstrations from town restaurants and producers, with a programme of live music and family activities.

The fish is accompanied by a beer festival, run by town brewery The FILO Brewing Company, based in Torfield Cottage, London Road, Hastings.

The two-day festival has been funded by the Fisheries Local Action Group and is run by Hastings Borough Council.

Among the stall holders for the second year are the 1066 Bakery, Jali Fine Dining, Sussex Sausage Company, Rock A Nore Kitchen, Olly’s Fish Shack, Simply Sussex Produce, Sussex Wild Food Company and town institution Webbe’s Restaurants.

“There will be a range of fish from off the Hastings coast,” says festival organiser Rosie Leech.

“We have got different cuisines from Japan and India, as well as Britain, creating their own twists on fish.

“Last year was our first year, and we were really lucky with the weather. This year we have got at least five more stallholders, and have added a lot more activities for kids to create a community, family-friendly feel.

“As well as the fish we are celebrating the fishermen who will be showing how they mend their nets, and helping with some of the activities, like fish-printing a souvenir bag, to get youngsters used to handling seafood. Our ethos is to get people interested in fish, and discover new dishes.”

Among the non-foodie family events are chances to try out kayaking, paddle-boarding and rock climbing, a display of children’s sea paintings at Hastings Museum, and face-painting from noon to 3pm both days.

Live music will be running from noon both days, launching with a performance by Hastings Sinfonia – a new orchestra founded by composer and concert pianist Polo Piatti and conducted by Derek Carden.

Also on the live music bill tomorrow are Eastbourne five-piece Zachary Dogwood, country/folk band Pocketsize, and Soul X Press, who have been playing soul and Motown covers for the last 20 years.

And on Sunday the fish and beer will be accompanied by music from Hastings singer Marie White, Spanish guitar and African drumming duo Andy Neate and Nana Tsiboe, covers band The Violet Jive, and upbeat folksters Jiggery Pokery.

Saturday evening also launches the fourth free summer Stade Saturdays programme with a performance by Canterbury’s Coco And The Butterfields from 6pm.

Future Stade Saturday events include guitarist Tom Williams on Saturday, June 27, circus theatre company Pif-Paf on Saturday, July 4, and a performance of prose-poem A Wave Of Dreams by Alex Walker, Tymon Dogg, Alex Thomas and film-maker Nichola Bruce on Saturday, July 11.

Plus later in the year there will be appearance by world music choir Vocal Explosion, folk duo Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou, and alt-bluegrass act The Coal Porters.

The same weekend as the Midsummer Fish Festival is the launch of an exhibition at Stade Hall, in Rock A Nore Road, by Hastings artist Laetitia Yhap.

All Hands focuses on the history of the Hastings fishing industry from 1974 to 1995. The exhibition opens tomorrow and runs until Sunday, July 5.

“The exhibition is free which is incredible,” says Leech. “I don’t think you would get that anywhere else in the country, as she is a nationally and internationally known artist.

“The paintings are a real insight into the fishing community – they don’t glamorise, they show the real life of the fishermen over that period.”

The display will be accompanied by a live performance from town choir Harmony One tomorrow at 1pm – which features Yhap among their members.

*The town's fishing industry is celebrated again later in the year with the Seafood And Wine Festival, which runs from Saturday, September 19, to Sunday, September 20.

Starts Sat 11am to 8pm, Sun 11am to 5pm, free. Visit www.hastingsfestivals.com