THOUSANDS of foodies and seafood fans flocked to the Old Town and Stade Open Space at the weekend to the eighth annual Hastings Seafood and Wine Festival.
Despite the grim weather, especially on Sunday (September 15), people were eager to try succulent dishes from more than 30 food stalls where local chefs conjured up a colourful array of flavours.
Visitors wandered through the many tents and marquees trying locally landed fish and wine from award-winning vineyards around Hastings.
A jazz breakfast was held on Sunday morning, with musical entertainment from local bands and jazz legend Liane Carroll.
A launch party to mark the start of this year’s festival drew in the crowds on Friday (September 13), featuring Bon Jovi tribute band, Bon Giovi, with support from Pete Prescott’s band Highway.
Winkle Island was also transformed into Fantasy Island at this year’s festival in order to raise money for local good causes.
Visitors were charged a fee for the first time this year in the festival’s eight-year history.
Despite the weather and the charge organisers are hailing the event a success.
Cllr Jeremy Birch, leader of Hastings Borough Council, opened the event with Mayor Alan Roberts on Saturday morning.
He said: “We’ve already had some really positive feedback on the event, and although overall the number of visitors was down on last year when the sun shone throughout, traders still did brisk business. Indeed one trader reported that trade on Saturday was up 25 per cent on last year, and at least three stallholders sold out on the Saturday, with visitors queuing at some stalls for the whole day.
“We’ve also had a lot of comments from visitors saying that they felt the atmosphere was better this year, and they enjoyed it more because it wasn’t so uncomfortably congested as 2012.
“This event, organised by Hastings Borough Council colleagues, remains one of the biggest and best seafood festivals in the country. Whitstable may have its oysters, but we think we run the pearl of seafood events.”