Hastings herring is quite a catch

Hastings Fishermen
Hastings Fishermen

A WEEKEND of herring-related happenings is in store with the launch of the first Hastings Herring Fair.

The festival taking place on The Stade Open Space and Stade Hall this weekend is organised by Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG).

Councillor Peter Chowney lead member for regeneration and chairman of FLAG, said: “This first Hastings Herring Fair aims to promote herring and the Hastings fishing fleet to the general public and professional chefs alike.”

The opening of the fair on Saturday at 11am will be heralded by the raising of the herring flags accompanied by shanty singing.

As night falls, (5.30pm) the famous Hastings Borough Bonfire Society will tour the Old Town with its barrows ‘a Catterning and Clemmening’ in a revival of the ancient Sussex tradition.

There will be expect dancing, Catherine Wheels, cattern cakes and songs. At noon on Sunday the blessing of the nets ceremony will take place.

Stalls over the two days will showcase herring cookery, pickling and smoking skills.

Talks, films and exhibitions in the Stade Hall, History House and Fishermen’s Museum will tell the history of the herring fishery.

Billingsgate Fish Cookery School, Greenpeace and the Marine Stewardship Council will be in attendance and musical entertainment will be provided by local musicians , including Hastings Shanty Singers, Rattlebag four-piece choir, SPIN, and The Sugar Loaf Band.

At Stade Hall on Saturday and Sunday, from 11am to 1pm children can make their own herring flags with Radiator Arts, and from 2pm to 4pm can make ‘silver darling’ streamers with local artists. The Fishermens’ Museum, in Rock-a-Nore, is distributing Silver Darling family activity packs.

Guided walks exploring The Stade will take place at 1pm on both days, meeting at the Lifeboat House.

Booking is advisable. Contact Hastings Fishermen’s Museum on 01424 461446 or StadeWalks@gmail.com.

On Sunday there will be storytelling and song with Kevin Graal at 11.30am, 12.45pm, 2pm, and 3.15pm. Contact Hastings Fishermen’s Museum on 01424 461446.

Swan House and the Old Town Rectory are joining in the spirit of the fair with special lunchtime menus over the weekend, as is Eat@the Stade, where there will be a herring quiz and traditional cattern cakes to accompany the celebrations on Saturday.