The new multi-million pound market site has allowed the festival to expand. This year there were dozens of stands featuring a wide range of arts, crafts and foodstuffs, three cookery demonstration areas and two music marquees – plus the beer tent with a good choice of local brews.
A fish-filleting demonstration by Sue Lucas of ‘Passionate About Fish’ (UK Fishmonger Champions) was excellent. As much as I enjoy eating the sweet, firm, meaty fish, gurnard, I’ve always struggled with filleting the curious, Toblerone-shaped body. After a bit of practice with Sue’s technique I can now get a gurnard ready to cook in less than a minute – and feel absurdly pleased with myself.
The music was great with a varied line-up to appeal to all tastes – blues, soul, rock and folk.
On the folk front it was the first time I’d seen ‘Banned from the Moor’, a very talented line-up of seven musicians who all live on Dartmoor. Mainly members of one family, it was good to see so many young faces enjoying playing folk music.
Brixham’s own pool of folk musicians was well represented. Maggie Duffy and Mike Weed are a duo having a lot of impact. Maggie has a lovely voice and writes stunning songs. Mike’s harmonica accompaniments are hauntingly beautiful.
Mike played in ‘Faraway Folk’ a band that made tv and radio appearances plus national tours. Three of the band live in Brixham; John Turk and Adrian Morris now play in ‘Swashbuckle’.
I mention that because while ‘Swashbuckle’ were playing at Fishstock there was a funny moment.
Philip Henry and Hannah Martin are up-and-coming folk musicians who grew up in Brixham and when very young played with many of the old hands. They were spotted by ‘Show of Hands’ busking at the Sidmouth Folk Festival. Steve Knightley and Phil Beer took the youngsters under their wing and have toured with them. Those performances included an April appearance at The Royal Albert Hall.
In the middle of the ‘Swashbuckle’ set, Adrian spotted Hannah in the audience and said, “Oh, Hannah, why ever did you leave us? You could have been performing here, rather than wasting your time at the Royal Albert Hall.”
It’s always a good day. If you’re in South Devon next September and you enjoy good food, good music and good company, come along and join the fun. The event doesn’t just give us a lot of fun; it also raises thousands of pounds for the Fishermen’s Mission.
A couple of days later the cheerful mood was shattered when the trawler Sarah Jayne sank and the skipper, Geoff Ingram, who was also a volunteer lifeboatman, drowned.
A sad irony is that ‘The Old Gaffers’, a local shanty band, finished their set at Fishstock with a moving rendition of ‘Don’t Take the Heroes’, the song written to commemorate the loss of the crew of the lifeboat, the Solomon Burke.
UPDATE: Since I wrote this blog Fishstock has won a ‘Best Tourist Event of 2012′ award.