Queenie Festival is hit with crowds

BEACH FUN:  Music and activities on Port Erin beach as part of the Queenie Festival attracted the crowds

BEACH FUN: Music and activities on Port Erin beach as part of the Queenie Festival attracted the crowds

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THE success of the Queenie Festival is 90 per cent down to the weather, said organiser Tim Croft, so last weekend’s gloriously hot and sunny weather – from Friday night until Sunday afternoon – meant it was a resounding success.

It all kicked off with music and activities on Port Erin beach and a still, fine evening attracted up to 3,000 people.

Then the festival proper moved to Port St Mary’s inner and outer harbour, where this huge celebration of the sea brought thousands to see stalls and join in activities such as the open water swim and diving.

Visitors to Port St Mary on Saturday and Sunday were about 9,000.

‘We had NASA astronauts versus a team from the crew of HMS Severn in model boat races,’ said Tim. ‘They are remote controlled tugs that scoop up a ball and fire it over to another tug. The astronauts won. That was followed by 10 MHKs morris dancing. It’s these little things that make community events.’

There were food demonstrations of the many ways to cook a queenie with Richard Kirkwood and Simon Wadham, chefs at London’s prestigious Ivy restaurant. Also regional food champion Henrietta Green gave demonstrations. One of the finalists in the queenie recipe competition came from the UK, just for the competition.

The chefs’ experience of local produce – scallops and also Manx loaghtan and Cocoa Red chocolate, for starters – mean Manx food is likely to creep on to the menus of some very important eateries.

This year there was an arts and craft element and demonstrations by embroiderers, knitters and loomers. Also Onkey Wijana, a Balinese stone sculptor now based in Peel, sculpted a queenie shell. Nick Barlow also did some sculpting of wood using a chainsaw.

There was a seafood extravaganza in a huge marquee in the inner harbour on Saturday night where mountains of fruits de mer and other seafood were served up, followed by a lively performance by Buncha Skankers.

Touch tanks were again a highlight of the event and Tim thanked the Manx Wildlife Trust for their help with this.

‘It’s just all about the sea,’ said Tim. ‘The events are specific to the sea and it’s environmental fishing, all water users coming together for a festival. The Queenie Festival is an umbrella. There’s nothing quite like it.’

Given the recent accreditation by the Marine Steward Council for the good practice and sustainability of scallop fishing, that endorsement gave a particular fillip to the festival.

‘It says what the festival is all about, the environment and industry working together. That (the MSC award) has been a big plus for us,’ said Tim.

Visitors included Claire Pescod from MSC and Pam Taylor from Solway Development Partnership. ‘They want to try and do more environmental sustainable for the Solway Firth,’ he said. ‘They said it’s the most wonderful festival they have ever seen, I would help them do something similar for themselves.’

Now in its third year, this was the most successful said Tim, who dreamt up the idea for the festival with Graham Hall, both are still key organisers. The festival is now firmly on the calendar – in the weeks before this year’s there were 1,000 hits on the website a day – and Tim would like more help, particularly from someone willing to be the honorary treasurer.

More visitors lead to greater disruption for residents and boat owners (unable to use the inner harbour slipway) and he thanked everyone for their co-operation. He said: ‘If people can just put up with it, anything we have done wrong this year we will try to get it right next year. If people have any concerns air them. Like our seas we want every bugger in the land to be harmonious.’

l Any photographs can be added to the Queenie Festival Facebook page. Any queries, call Tim, phone 495930.

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