THE ANNUAL celebration of all things maritime in the town - Arbroath Sea Fest - will take place on Saturday and Sunday, August 4 and 5. As this will be the 15th anniversary of this highly popular event, the organisers are hoping for a particularly successful weekend.
“Over the years, Sea Fest has attracted thousands of visitors to Arbroath,” said Alistair Martin, chair of Arbroath Sea Fest committee, the dedicated group of local volunteers who are behind this major tourist attraction. “Last year, about 30,000 people attended the event, ensuring a considerable boost to Arbroath’s economy while also providing a timely reminder of the town’s connections with the sea.”
The concept of Arbroath Sea Fest was first aired during an informal meeting between two members of Arbroath Business Association, Alan Wallace and Harry Simpson, and a member of Angus Council’s economic development unit.
Mr Simpson explained: “We were chatting about how to encourage more visitors to Arbroath, help local businesses and promote the town when the idea of a festival celebrating the town’s strong links with the sea surfaced.
“We suggested this to Arbroath Business Association and it was decided that, in partnership with Arbroath RNLI, Arbroath Fisherman’s Association, the Royal Burgh of Arbroath Community Council and Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce, Arbroath Business Association’s annual summer fête would be transformed into a two-day, large-scale festival.”
Councillor Bob Spink was one of the many local people who soon became involved in the exciting new project. “Many others in Arbroath shared my good impression of the town and were keen to highlight how much Arbroath could offer as a place to live, locate a business or visit on holiday,” he recalled. “In addition, Arbroath Sea Fest was, potentially, an excellent way of capitalising on the tremendous tourism potential of Arbroath’s fishing heritage.”
In July, 1997, the first Arbroath Sea Fest was held. “It was wonderful to see so many people at the harbour, enjoying a day out in Arbroath,” recalled Mr Simpson, who estimated that about 15,000 people attended the inaugural event.
After three successful years, Arbroath Sea Fest became a limited charitable company and Arbroath Business Association’s involvement ceased. “That’s when I became involved,” explained Mr Martin. “Since then, and with the support of the excellent committee, Arbroath Sea Fest has continued to grow, with ever-increasing numbers of stalls, visitors and special attractions.”
Councillor Spink was a member of Arbroath Sea Fest committee until 2009 and retains a keen interest in the festival. “Sea Fest is a very good day out and it has certainly lived up to its original aim of attracting people to the town,” he said.
Sea Fest event manager Eleanor Whitby confirmed that the festival brings a mini-tourist boom to Arbroath every August. She said: “Statistics show that, during the weekend of Sea Fest, Angus benefits from a good increase in tourism figures, with local accommodation providers fully booked well in advance.”
The Provost of Angus, Ruth Leslie Melville, has attended several Sea Fests. “Arbroath Sea Fest is a marvellous, happy family event which is appreciated – and attended - by the people of Arbroath, people across Angus and beyond,” she stated. “Hats off to all those involved in this event, who take on these responsibilities out of civic pride and commitment to the Royal Burgh of Arbroath.”
For more information about Arbroath Sea Fest 2012, visit www.arbroathseafest.co.uk.