THE Dorset Seafood Festival has been hailed as ‘the best ever’ by visitors, stallholders and organisers.
The event on Weymouth harbourside attracted more than 50,000 people over the weekend.
Thousands of people from as far as Yorkshire and London flocked to the resort for the iconic event, which is the biggest seafood festival in the country.
Visitors spoke of the harbourside ‘coming alive’ with the sights and smells with all kinds of cuisines on offer.
Organiser Roger Dalton said: “I think with the combination of the weather, the entertainment, the businesses all coming together, that it has been the best Dorset Seafood Festival ever.”
He added that many stallholders have already registered their interest for next year and some stands were reportedly selling double the amount they would normally expect.
Sue and Duncan Lucas, of Passionate About Fish, based in Surrey, set up a display of sea creatures in support of charity Fisherman’s Mission.
Sue said: “This is the best festival in the calendar and this is the best year we have had so far.
“It’s just brilliant. The harbourside is buzzing.”
Shelley Bond, of Dorchester Restaurant Shelley’s Plaice, was exhibiting at the festival for the first time this year.
She said: “It has been fantastic. We have been so busy and my only worry is that I might run out of food before the day’s ended.”
Liz Evans travelled from Newbury, Berkshire, for the event, with children Ruby, six, and Joseph, 10.
She said: “We visit Weymouth every year especially for the seafood festival.
“There’s such a lot going on, it’s fabulous.
“We are just trying to eat our way around all of the stalls.”
Joseph added: “It’s really fun here, and I like all the different kinds of food.”
Mr Dalton said: “The only word I can think to describe it is just ‘wow’.
“The harbourside is looking its best, we have the weather for it, everything is going smoothly and trade is great.
“What I really love about this festival is how everyone wants to get involved. We all pull together.”
He admitted that last year’s event, when the Saturday of the 2012 festival was rained off, was a ‘big disappointment’.
“At the end of the day, this is an outdoor event and the weather just made it dangerous.
“But this year – just look at it. It’s so busy there’s barely a hotel space in Weymouth.”
Nor is the event just about food.
Mr Dalton said: “There’s a spectacular range of seafood, but we’ve also got live music in Hope Square, we’ve got the B-Side arts festival and a disco.”
He added: “It just goes to show what this town can really do if we have the confidence to try.”
* The Daily Echo and Dorset Echo hosted a hospitality day at the festival on board the prestigious motor yacht 777, in conjunction with Ara wines and Brand Acceleration.