Sea food festival splashes the cash

Cromer and Sheringham Crab and Lobster Festival distribute funds from the art trail auction. Photos:

Cromer and Sheringham Crab and Lobster Festival distribute funds from the art trail auction. Photos: Dave Hubba Roberts - Credit: Hubba Roberts

It was ranked one of the top ten food festivals in the country last year.

And this year organisers are aiming to be number one.

Cromer and Sheringham Crab and Lobster Festival - a weekend celebration of the area's fishing heritage - launches with a Grand Opening Concert at the Pier Pavilion Theatre in Cromer on Friday, May 20.

One of the highlights of last year's festivities was the ship's wheels art trail auction which raised £5000. And this week the money was distributed to local good causes at the community centre in Sheringham.

Festival chairman Tony Shipp said: 'This will be the seventh year of the festival and it has grown steadily over those years, it has become nationally known and last year we were among the top ten food festivals in the country.

'But we're always trying to improve on that.

'We find that being a seafood festival that's what people come for and each year we try to add to what we are doing so people get a good taste of what we have to provide here in north Norfolk.'

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Other highlights of the weekend, which attracts around 20,000 people to the coastal towns every year, include live music, cooking demonstrations and the World Pier Crabbing Championships.

Last year saw some changes to the festival with the announcement that food stalls and entertainment would stay in Cromer for two days rather than move to Sheringham for a day.

And this year it has emerged that there will be no leaflet to promote the seafood trail due to a lack of volunteers.

Mr Shipp said: 'We're not putting a leaflet out this year for the food trail, basically because we haven't got the manpower to do that, but we are hoping that all those restaurants that took part in the trail last year will still provide a seafood menu or seafood dish during the weekend.

'The bulk of the weekend will be in Cromer, as far as all the stalls go, and the main day will be Saturday in Cromer and Sheringham are now building up their end again.

'In past years we have duplicated what we did, we moved everything from Cromer to Sheringham so now they are getting their own identity which is great, and introducing different things. Now we have the same festival but two different days.'

The full line-up of this year's event has yet to be announced. But local dignitaries revealed the Cromer and Sheringham Crab and Lobster Festival helped put the area on the map.

Sheringham Mayor David Gooch said: 'This is a festival which attracts people to the area out of season, it increases the number of visitors, it does an incredible job of publicising Cromer and Sheringham and also gives emphasis to our specialities here of Cromer crab and lobster, which is a local delicacy.

'If you go many places in the country and say: 'Where's Cromer?' They don't know. But they've heard of Cromer crabs. When I lived in Devon just before we moved here and I told them where I was going, they said: 'Where's that?' I said: 'Up on the north Norfolk coast, next door to Cromer.' And they said: 'Oh yes, I know Cromer crabs.'

'It's a tremendous boost to the tourist industry out of season and it's good to see them giving back to the community.'

One hundred businesses, groups and individuals sponsored a ship's wheel as part of the 2015 art trail. Local artists decorated them and they were put on display around the towns for five months from Easter before being auctioned off.

The groups and projects benefiting from the cash this year are as follows: About With Friends - providing skills and allotment project; Cromer Lawn Tennis - new lighting for squash courts; Cromer RNLI - updating service boards; Love for Leo - helping local children with celebral palsy; National Coastwatch - weather station refurbishment project; Cromer Academy - CADT allotment space; Woodfields School - primary school playground revamp; Lighthouse Trust - interm support; Sheringham Primary School - climbing frame; Weybourne Folk Club - sixth annual Weybourne Folk Weekend; RNLI Education - sea safety to schools and youth groups; Halsey House - digital software; Crazee Kid Club - young meets old; Lady Pre-Nursery - upgrade facilities; Cromer Walkers - walkers information project; Marrams Bowls Club - painting outside clubhouse; Sidestrand Hall School - sensory garden; Cromer Youth Club - Cromer Girls football team; Friends of Roughton School - picnic table replacement project; Waveney Stardust Trust - river cruises for elderly and disabled; St Peter's Church, Sheringham - grand piano fund.

Local groups, each awarded up to £250, have welcomed the cash.

Roughton School will use the money towards their picnic table replacement project to allow the children to continue to eat their lunches outside during the summer months.

Joanne Fenner, from Friends of Roughton School, said: 'So far we have replaced six out of ten (tables) at a cost of £500 each so we have already donated a lot money to the school and this £200 is going to go towards the next bench.

'Roughton only has 55 pupils so the amount of free money the school has to spend on these added extras is very small, so they rely heavily on the Friends to provide buses for trips, new sports equipment for break times and that sort of thing.

'Last year the Crab and Lobster Festival helped us buy £100 worth of hymn books for the school assemblies.'

Waveney Stardust Trust, which provides local cruises for the elderly and disabled, also benefited.

Skipper Alan McKechnie said: 'This means a lot; it will go towards the tea and biscuits we provide because we don't charge, and it all helps make the day for them.'

Cromer lifeboat station will use the money to update its service boards

Operations manager Richard Leeds said: 'Over the years we've had a few grants from the Crab and Lobster Festival and we've increased our awareness in the community for safety on the beaches and at sea.

'This is going to mention all the rescues that we've done on the inshore lifeboat, now we've opened a second museum down on the promenade.'

When asked what the festival means to the area, Mr Leeds added: 'The festival is growing all the time. To start with we had the two towns, which brought them both together, and they've gone on their separate ways slightly but both of them are doing their own thing now which is great.'

This year the art trail continues its seaside theme with beach huts. To get involved, email: