THE Lymington Seafood Festival survived strong winds to offer more than 12,000 visitors the chance to enjoy some of the south’s best fishy delicacies.
Despite having a reduced number of stands on Saturday due to the weather – which delayed the start of the festival – there was a full offering on Sunday.
Organised by Richard and Domine Nowell, the festival, now in its third year, once again showcased stands from more than 80 artisan food and drink producers sourced from across the New Forest and south coast.
A number of food vendors, including Nosh Box, Quiddles Paella and Dorset Shellfish, served up their specialist dishes to cater to all tastes, with vegan and veggie options available at some stalls.
Thirsty visitors were able to wash down their seafood with a local craft ale from Ringwood Brewery, a gin and tonic from Conker Spirits, or an award-winning sparkling wine from Exton Park Vineyard.
Event organiser Domine Nowell said: “The British weather tried its best to beat us, so it was great to see so many people turning up to support the festival on Saturday.
“We were monitoring three different weather forecasts from Wednesday onwards, and in constant communication with our stallholders to ensure everyone was prepared.
“Unfortunately, those cooking with gas or on charcoal were unable to trade on Saturday, and several other stallholders didn’t feel confident their gazebo’s could withstand the high winds.”
Domine added that a meeting was called early on the Saturday morning to discuss the safety of the event given the weather.
“We decided to close the parking at Woodside Park and use all the marshals at the show ground to help stallholders set up and fully secure their stands,” she explained.
“The start was slightly delayed, and unfortunately the first bands could not play as the music stage needed more work to ensure it was fully safe.
“It was also a shame that the demonstration kitchen could not open, as we were looking forward to welcoming chefs from Gordleton Mill, The Noisy Lobster, and the Chewton Glen, along with Masterchef’s Jane Devonshire.
“We tried to re-jig things as much as possible and create an even more packed show for the Sunday. Kerry Witt was an absolute star as she had half a dozen children joining her in a making chocolate mermaid tails!”
There were musical performances by local artists including Carley Varley, who has recently released her second new single Honest Conflict, 17-year-old singer-songwriter Emma Hardy, and Zac and the Zeros.
Each year, the event supports a local charity, and this time around it was the turn of the Lymington RNLI. Relying solely on fundraising or donations, the mariner volunteers who keep boaters safe on Solent waters were out in force selling raffle tickets, thanks to the generosity of numerous event sponsors and businesses.
They included New Forest Cottages, The Montagu Arms, Conker Gin, the Chewton Glen cookery school and Ringwood Brewery.
Lymington RNLI Commodore David Monks said: “People were most generous with their donations, and I’m confident they have helped us raise a significant amount of money to assist the Lymington Lifeboat.
“What was equally good was that we had a number of people come forward to volunteer their time to work with the RNLI, and as a direct result I would anticipate that we will be able to recruit a number of new crew members for the boat.
“Once again, thank you to the organisers and their team for choosing the RNLI as their chosen charity this year, and I look forward to next year’s event with fingers crossed for fine weather!”
Domine summarised: “The festival is starting to build a real following and a great reputation for the quality of dishes available. We worked even harder to give seafood lovers even more choice, and people are travelling from across the whole south coast to make a weekend of it.
“I don’t think there was a single hotel room available, which means the event is great for the local economy.”