Save the date – this year’s Dorset Seafood Festival will be held on the weekend of 7-8 September, on the Weymouth Peninsula.
Committed local businesses and staunch festival supporters have come together to ensure Weymouth’s annual celebration of all thing’s seafood will continue in 2024. Fears that this unique event would no longer be a highlight of the county’s calendar have been put to rest.
The Dorset Seafood Festival, now incredibly in its 16th year, is recognised as one of the country’s landmark food and drink events, attracting upwards of 10,000 visitors to Weymouth, showcasing the town and a host of artisan Dorset businesses. According to an independent report, the Festival generated as much as £3m for the local community in 2022.
Over the years the festival has also raised more than £90,000 for the Fishermen’s Mission, becoming the charity’s largest annual event contributor.
Last year saw record crowds gather on the Peninsula over the festival weekend, enjoying the sunshine, an amazing choice of delicious, locally caught seafood, wonderful Dorset ales, fine English wines, great gifts and shopping, live music curated by The Leggomen, the chefs’ theatre and lots more family fun.
The Festival has always been a labour of love. But sadly, the rising costs led Festival Director, Laura Avant, to step back from her role at the beginning of this month, with the implication that the event would not continue. However, the timely intervention of a group of local businesses, including Weyfish and In The Bag PR has rewritten the story.
“This is a prestigious event for the town.” says Laura. “The Festival is enormously important to the area, and to all of us who live here. I’m delighted to be able to leave the Festival in safe hands, and that it can be enjoyed once again this year – to show off this wonderful part of Britain and to help raise money for the Fishermen’s Mission.”
Sean Cooper, owner of Weyfish, the town’s harbourside fishmonger, and amongst those taking on responsibility for the event, says “When we learned the festival was in doubt, phones buzzed, conversations started, and everyone agreed we simply had to act. The Festival is a very special platform for our spectacular local seafood, as well as the many growers and producers that make Dorset such a fantastic food and drink lovers’ destination. It really puts us on the map.
“Importantly also, it’s a celebration of sustainability. The Weymouth fishing fleet is the archetype of sustainable fishing. Small, inshore day boats, using nets, pots and lines, catching enough to meet demand, with little or no waste. This town is an example for coastal communities nationwide.”
Building on Laura’s years of dedication to the festival, the new organisers already have some exciting plans for 2024, to be announced over the coming months.
“We are already in conversation with many of the event’s committed sponsors, exhibitors and supporters”, says new Event Director Pippa Gibb, “and we’re discussing how to ensure the 2024 Festival achieves everything last year’s event did for the town – plus more. In particular, we want to make the most of the location. In the past, the harbourside provided a lot of freedom, but post the redevelopment of Custom House Quay this location simply isn’t suitable for such a large and popular event. The Peninsula is a fantastic location for live music, improved seating and family friendly activities.”
The Dorset Seafood Festival, will be held on 7 – 8 September, on the Weymouth Peninsula. Tickets for this year’s event will be available soon.
For more information, visit www.dorsetseafood.co.uk or follow us on Twitter @dorsetseafood or Facebook Dorset Seafood Festival or on Instagram @dorsetseafoodfest