LOCAL groups have rallied round to save Rye Maritime Festival following a wave of public protest when it was cancelled due to a funding shortfall.
Organisers announced a month ago that the quay-side celebration would not be going ahead after Rye Town Council turned down a funding request for £500.
Organiser Charles Bronsdon said: “Within two hours of the Rye Observer publishing the news I had people coming up to me in the street wanting to make donations to keep the Festival going.
“It was lovely to see how many people seem to appreciate the event.”
He added: This year’s Rye Maritime has been saved by the intervention of the Rye and District Hotels and Caterers Association, Rye Chamber of Commerce, Rye Bay Marketing Ltd and 1066 Country Marketing, who have all kindly contributed to the funding shortfall, which will enable the Festival to go ahead as scheduled on August 13.
John Smith the Chairman of the Rye and District Hotels and Caterers Association said “as an association it is our pleasure to help support the Maritime Festival.
“It is one of the truly relevant festivals for Rye highlighting the rich nautical heritage of this famous Cinque Port.
“Due to the hard work of the organisers the Festival has gone from strength to strength and is a great day out for not only much needed visitors but also, and possibly more importantly, local folk as well.”
George Bailey, chairman of 1066 Country Marketing Partnership and Property Manager for Bodiam Castle and Winchelsea properties, said: “Our visitors tell us how much they enjoy our events here in 1066 Country, and with Rye being an ‘ancient town’ and one of the Cinque Ports it makes perfect sense for us to sponsor Rye’s Maritime Festival.
“We are very pleased to be able to support this event, which should really help the local visitor economy, benefitting shops, restaurants, accommodation providers and other attractions in and around Rye.”
The Maritime Festival is the last remaining free festival in Rye and has been running for eight years now. It sees hundreds of people packing onto the quayside to view decorated boats.
It includes a barbecue, live music, stalls and demonstrations.
Mr Bronsdon said: “The Festival started from a very small event and has grown, with a lot of hard work, over the years, to become one of the town’s major summer attractions.
“It is organised by a small group who give their services for no monetary gain to try and enhance the town of Rye.”