The inaugural Festival of the Sea is preparing to bring Rye to life when it lands in town this weekend.
The new event is an amalgamation of two much-loved festivals previously lost to the town – the Raft Race and Maritime Festival.
Proceedings will get underway at 11am on Saturday (July 22) with the Raft Race, started by VIPs including the mayor and Festival Queen, in the Monk Bretton bridge area.
At noon, spectators will be taken back to The Strand, led by the Rye Bonfire Boys Drummers and the town crier, and prizes for the race will be presented on the stage at The Strand at 12:45pm.
The winning raft will receive a prize of £100 sponsored by Andi Rivett, Rock Channel Marine and the Reg Emson trophy, which has been hand-crafted in the shape of an oar. The runner up prize of £50 for best effort made with a raft/funniest raft, sponsored by Rye Shoes will also be presented.
Seven rafts have signed up this year – a good number considering the race hasn’t been run for several years.
Music, stalls, food, drink and entertainment, including bumper boats, will be available along The Strand Quay from 12 to 6pm.
There will be a selection of outstanding local musicians, demonstrations from the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and Captain Pugwash readings by the town crier from 2 to 4pm at the Heritage Centre. There will be a Message in a Bottle competition for youngsters, with entry forms to be picked up from the Heritage Centre and prizes handed out on completion. At 2:15pm, the tug of war competition will get underway, with a £60 prize and trophy up for grabs.
The organisers have been working tirelessly since March to bring the popular Raft Race and Maritime Festival back to life after they dwindled away a few years ago. Acknowledgment must be made to the festival committee – chairman Andi Rivett, Liz Pendennis, Neil Cunliffe (both also of the Rye Christmas Festival), Sophie Judge, Kirsty Doherty and Rebekah Gilbert.
For more information about the festival, visit http://ryefestivalofthesea.co.uk/.