Whitby’s Fish and Ships festival goes virtual
This year’s Whitby Fish and Ships Festival, the town’s celebration of all things maritime, is going virtual on 15 and 16 May.
Coming to a screen near you this weekend via the Discover Yorkshire Coast You Tube channel will be around 40 videos to view and enjoy, personally recorded and edited by local businesses and organisations passionate about Whitby’s maritime and fishing heritage and the widely celebrated fish and seafood industry the town is proud of today.
Contributors include Pannett Art Gallery, Whitby Museum, Captain Cook Museum, Magpie Café, Quayside Fisheries, Whitby Sea Festival, Scarborough Borough Council’s harbour team and North Yorkshire County Council’s Whitby Library.
Not to be missed is ‘Price of a Fish Supper’, a one-act, one man play, written by local playwright, Catherine Czerkawska, and performed and recorded at the Gaiety Theatre in Ayr. Ex-fisherman Rab tells his riveting story of love, rivalry and disaster, which echoes the wider economy of the place where he lives and the coast on which he once worked.
Richard Grainger’s Whitby Sea Festival group is set to perform their new musical composition, ‘Chips and Fish’ and year 9 students from Caedmon College will join them for the song ‘Old Whitby Town’.
For a taste of the scrumptious there are cooking demonstrations from Magpie Café, and Quayside’s fascinating video gives a ‘behind the scenes’ view of the journey from the fish merchants, to fish filleting, making the batter and peeling the potatoes to produce their award winning Whitby fish and chips.
Actor, Steve Huison, best known as ‘Lomper’ in the 1997 film, The Full Monty, and for his role as Eddie Windass in Coronation Street, will narrate the videos from Pannett Art Gallery. The art gallery has also produced a slide show of some of their famous paintings set to a local Whitby sea song.
Captain Cook Museum shows off its exhibits and the tale of Jolly Jane Tar, a girl who went to sea, wonderfully performed by Bidi Iredale. There’s also children’s reactions to items found on Captain Cook’s voyage and demonstrations on how to make an underwater coral scene and how to measure longitude and latitude.
Whitby Library shows an interview from the archives with renowned photographic artist Frank Meadow Sutcliffe. Children can learn how to make an Origami boat and listen to Liz Million’s stories.
Whitby Museum’s video looks at Scoresby’s Artic and their amazing fossil collection.
A video about Whitby Harbour from Scarborough Borough Council’s Harbour Master is a modified Zoom presentation; demonstrating how something relatively mundane can be adapted to form an engaging and informative video guide.
Supported and encouraged by the council’s culture development and tourism teams, those taking part in the virtual Whitby Fish and Ships Festival have learnt new digital skills during the project and for many, it is their first time in front of a camera.
The virtual festival replaces this year’s actual festival, previously ruled out by organisers at a time when there was no guarantee the event would be able to go ahead due to Covid-19 restrictions. It is hoped the festival will physically return to Whitby, bigger and better, in May 2022.
Janet Deacon, Scarborough Borough Council Tourism and Culture Manager, said:
“When we realised we wouldn’t be able to commit with certainty to the physical event this year, the fantastic festival team set about getting ready for a virtual maritime celebration instead.
“The entertaining and informative videos they’ve produced are intended to give a taste of Whitby and the often surprising things the town has to offer.
“We hope it will to entice people to visit Whitby to discover more about its fascinating past and the many wonderful experiences visitors can enjoy today, as well as inspire them to return for the actual festival next year.”