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Plans have begun, just before the Christmas break, to see Pevensey Bay and locality become ‘a homegrown festival showcase’ in East Sussex

The first of these homegrown festivals is the Pevensey Food and Drink Festival 2020, which is planned to be an annual event.

The goal of festival organisers is to see that this foodie heaven corner of Sussex is put on the foodie map of Sussex in a special way, tailored to the unique spirit of the locality.

Three ‘taster events’ in the autumn of 2019 tested the ground for the festival. One of these events, the ‘Grill and Ghost Night’ at Priory Court Hotel and Restaurant, in Pevensey, was a sellout success..

Talking to Bay Life in November, organisers of the first annual Pevensey Food and Drink Festival outlined their plans for local events on VE Day in May 2020. The festival will join a National Toast and Ringing Out for Peace. In addition there is to be a local showcase detailing the part played by the area in World War II.

The festival is taking a lead from a new Government website that is encouraging a celebration across the country, with regard to VE Day 2020, The website says, “When VE Day dawns on 8th May 2020 it will be 75 years since the guns fell silent at the end of the war in Europe. Years of carnage and destruction had come to an end and millions of people took to the streets to celebrate”

Organisers said in November, “plans are well in hand in Pevensey and Pevensey Bay for a new festival celebrating the exciting and rich hospitality culture in the villages.

Shirley McKinnon, one of the instrumental figures behind the festival said, “we have a vibrant network of pubs and restaurants who are all working hard to promote the area and look forward to offering a warm welcome to residents and visitors alike’.

Various pubs and restaurants are to be invited into the planning stage of the festival.

Talking to Bay Life on Christmas Eve, Shirley, who is working with colleague Jayne Howard on the plans for the festival, told us, “just to let you know that Jayne and I are having a meeting with a few local venues and others in the NY (New Year), several invited to discuss VE Day plans”.

The first food and drink festival in Pevensey Bay and the locality is to be be supported by BA/PA, a new press agency for Pevensey Bay which is to manage part of the promotion of the festival. Media releases about some aspects of the festival will be distributed to news outlets across East Sussex.

The festival is to be documented by photojournalist, Steve Malone, whose work is seen in local news outlets in East Sussex.

Another ‘homegrown festival’, the Pevensey History Festival, will return in 2020 for a second outing. A successful pilot festival held in August 2019, gathered 500 people who ‘came and saw and conquered’. The second iteration will begin the planning stage in the Spring of 2020, with a series of talks and walks as the centrepiece again of the event, which will take place over three days of the August Bank Holiday in 2020 .

A third ‘homegrown festival’, the Pevensey Arts and Literature festival, which has been mooted for a number of years, is also to be discussed as a blueprint for the Autumn of 2020.

Local residents with an interest in arts and literature have noted the close approximation of association between major national figures to the locality.

There is myth, magic and comedy.

With literature, Kipling, with Puck of Pook’s Hill wrote about the Eastern Gate at Pevensey Castle as ‘the gateway to the Albion’. C.S. Lewis in the Narnia Chronicles chose the High Norman name ‘Pevensie’ for the family in the famous childrens ‘ books. With art, we may be the only village in England with two roads in parallel named after major Pre-Raphaelite figures (Val Prinseps and Rossetti).

Pevensey Bay was the summer holiday home to writers of the Goon Show in the nineteen fifties, the Golden Age of radio comedy scripts in the country. The scripts are littered with references to the Bay. Tony Hancock, the protagonist of ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ stayed at the Bay Hotel in Pevensey Bay on a number of occasions.

There are rich pickings here for the basis of some kind of small scale arts and literature festival.

Plans to see Pevensey Bay and the locality become a homegrown festival showcase in East Sussex are based on the rich heritage and the particular seaside landscape here. The features here are being perceived as a natural setting for these kinds of locally focused cultural events.

BAY/PA, the news agency for Pevensey Bay, four friends and a festival, launches on Tuesday 14 January 2020.