August Bank Holiday events welcome record crowds

9th September

East Sussex residents were spoilt for choice over the end of August Bank Holiday weekend with three amazing events to choose from – Le Marche in Heathfield, The Festival of Transport in Hellingly and the Medieval Festival at Herstmonceux.

Organisers were relieved that the events could go ahead this year after all of them had to be cancelled last year due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

Well over 10,000 people visited the 45th Festival of Transport over the three days and large queues could be seen outside the show ground. There were almost 2,500 exhibitors taking part in the event which was adapted to meet Covid 19 guidance for events. This included stopping indoor catering and many hand sanitizers being available.

Event Secretary David Esmond said: “We are a small team and could not run the event without the support of the Eastbourne Historic Vehicle Club. We’re proud of the show and the fact that we raise so much money for local charities such as St Wilfred’s, Friends of Eastbourne Hospital, Eastbourne RNLI and Eastbourne Scouts who provide First Aid. The show has raised £150,000 for local causes since it started. We also support the lcoal community be deliberately working with local suppliers.”

Le Marche 2021 was also a resounding success according to the organisers. Jude Wates, part of the Le Marche team said: “Despite all the hurdles put in the way of running a 2021 Le Marché on the day the event had a record number of visitors as well as an amazing number of stalls. The weather was perfect and we have enjoyed some very good feedback from everyone who attended.”Setting the event up involved persuading local traders that it really would take place, as well as persuading the local authority to allow us to use, free of charge, the large car park behind Tesco as we had for the last 20 odd years, persuading local artists, bands and other musicians to allow us to book their acts. Then finally persuading everyone that it was safe to come to a free open air event!”

For the first year ever the organisers counted visitors coming into Station Road and Station Approach via the three main entrances. There were in excess of 6,500 people who came and enjoyed the day which is thought to be a record.

The Council very generously allowed the organisers to use the large car park for free and even drew up a legal agreement in record time. 

The bands included 21 Whiskeys, Howlin’ Grooves and Fat Belly Jones who performed on the main stage and were rapturously received by the crowds.  And in the Union Church Tilsmore, The Sussex Stompers and Saxonymous played.  Marko the Magician and Andy Boscoe both entertained children of all ages in the State Hall and in the closed roads.

There was a record number of stalls this year – 80 in total of which seven were French.  The French bought cheese, charcuterie, delicious paella and tartelette, chicken basque, chicken rotisserie, chicken tacos and a fantastic mobile baker.  Queues for the croissants, pain au raisin and baguettes stretched right around the car park.

The local stall holders all enjoyed a profitable day, selling most of their displays. The Three Acre brewery sold all their stock of beer had to return to the brewery for replenishments. Kendale Catering sold out their spit roast pig and bacon.   Information stalls were were pleased with the number of visitors who registered interest.

Great interest was shown by local shops in the window dressing competition. The joint winners were Foresters and Trading4u.

Jude added: “All in all, the day was a huge success.  We look forward to the 29th August 2022 when we will be running Le Marché for the 25th year.  The French have promised more stalls possibly exceeding their 2019 level and local stallholders have already started to book their favourite places.”

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Over in Herstmonceux the perfect weather saw The Medieval Festival attract record crowds. Thousands of visitors saw the castle brought back to life by reenactors and medieval enthusiasts so visitors could experience a whole host of sights and spectacles including jousting, axe throwing, archery and some amazing living history displays. Next year will see the 30th anniversary of this spectacular event so make sure you put it in the diary.

A spokesperson for Hersmonceux Castle Estate said: “We can’t let this opportunity pass without thanking everyone from the Castle team that worked so hard to make the event a success. While we were very much in the background on this one, leaving the organisers to run the event itself, the work required by the Operations Team, the Grounds and Gardens Team and Aramark as out catering partners cannot in anyway be underestimated. Top marks all round!”