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image credit: Pevensey Dog Show 2019

What is being described by organisers as a ‘matrix’ for event planning in the locality this year, is leading the way to the foundation of Pevensey and Pevensey Bay as a base for ‘homegrown festivals’ in this beautiful little corner of East Sussex by the seaside

The second annual dog show this year is joined by the second history festival. In addition VEDAY75, celebrating 75 years since ‘the guns fell silent in Europe’ at the end of the Second World War may link as many as 17 local public houses, cafes and other venues in street celebrations at the new Bank Holiday in May designated to mark the event on a national basis.

Public houses, restaurants and cafes were represented at a discussion about ideas for local celebrations with VEDAY75, held at the Ocean Bakery and Restaurant in Pevensey Bay on Thursday (9 January) with ideas discussed from across the community.

The first annual Pevensey Food and Drink Festival is also beginning to shape this year. Organisers are talking about a series of events as ‘part of the narrative’.

A possible jewel in the crown, the ‘Pevensey Arts and Literature Festival’, something that has been mooted for a number of years, is also back on the agenda, with an initial meet-up that is being described as a ‘scoping exercise’; taking place at the Bay Hotel and Bar next week.

Out of these sparks may come the emergence of Pevensey and Pevensey Bay as a new seaside base for homegrown festivals in East Sussex.

The calibre of some of the local organisers involved in the planning of these events is impressive. Some of the pilot work done with these festivals in 2019 was also impressive. A number of pilot events in 2019 sold out.

There were 200 dog entrants for the first Pevensey Dog Show in 2019.(some dogs entered more than one class). An estimation saw a churn of about 500 people in total on the Day.

Pevensey History Festival, first held, August Bank Holiday 2019, saw a total of 560 people who stepped into the story of England to hear about the unique part that Pevensey played in that story, in a series of walks and talks.This is also now an annual event, at August Bank Holiday time.

These are impressive numbers for local pilot events, clearly these events can be developed in 2020.

Not just residents are coming, the reviews and social media comment last year for the pilot events, demonstrated that new visitors are coming as well, attracted to the notion of local festivals.

The value of these events to the local economy is not to be underestimated. They fill local cafes and restaurants and public houses for the day and they bring much needed money to the local hospitality sector.

Our original ‘homegrown festival’, the classic ‘Vehicles of Yesteryear’ at the Sea Road Car Park on the first Saturday of April, draws as many as 1,000 people to the Bay every year. The majority of these people are visitors.

If we could build on this kind of spirit, with Days that tune in to the spirit of the locality, then we could be onto a series of sustainable winners, delivered every year.

The birth of these homegrown festivals could one way in which we could begin to re-profile our position as a visitor destination, particularly for families. Our local small scale seaside landscape, history and heritage has something special to offer visitors.

The fact that people can walk the locality with history trails, with maps of public house in hand where things are happening all within a twenty minute easily accessible range, makes us ripe for the development of an event network of some description.

Up to now, perhaps this has not been divined.

Maybe there is something in the soil here that is rich for the growing of a local festival network.

Start with a historic castle, an Elizabethan High Street and a particular small scale English seaside landscape as a sketch, add the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The Pevensie famiy in the Narnia Chronicles, Rudyard Kipling, the Goon Show, and put into the mix a real local flavour with the food establishments and local public houses and you can make some magic.

There is a ready made theatre backdrop  for the production of these kinds of event.

Maybe 2020 is the year that this will begin to happen. There were certainly some hints in 2019 that new seeds are being sewn here with events.

The Bay Hotel may become home not just to some of the pre-planning of these events, but home to new guests to festivals, talks and celebrations.

Open Mic Night could be joined by Open Festival Night for the launch of some of these homegrown festvals.

The million pounds spent on the restoration of the Bay Hotel, may not just be transforming the fortunes of the Bay Hotel, but the fortunes of Pevensey Bay.

First with their pre-publicity this week with local festivals for the year, is the media release by the Pevensey Dog Show 2020.

Organisers say (10 January), “following the success of the inaugural Pevensey Dog Show in 2019, plans are in hand for the 2020 event, which will be held on 7 June at Wallsend Road Sports Ground.

“This community show will provide a fun family event to residents and visitors, as well as providing a platform for Pevensey Parish Council to highlight the problems the villages face regarding the management of dog fouling and it is hoped that the Show will help to highlight responsible dog ownership.

Organisers add, ‘there will be honours to compete for in 7 classes and stall holders and charities are welcome to attend. Once again there will be entertainment and additional attractions. East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service plan their ‘Station Open Day’ on the same day and will display assets and offer demonstrations on the Show site.

Talking about the Show, Chairman of Pevensey Parish Council, Peter Lowton commented ‘the 2019 event was hugely popular and was a great day out for the family and competing pooches. Amongst the fun and entertainment was the message to reduce dog fouling in public places and this message remains valid. It was great to see so many people turn up with their pets and enjoy the day’.

Exhibitors Forms will be available for stall holders to complete and can be downloaded via the Pevensey Parish Council Website: www.pevenseyparishcouncil.org. in the coming weeks.