Chairs trail for seafood festival

The twin seaside resorts of Cromer and Sheringham will be awash with deck chairs this summer - but in the streets as well as on the seashore.

Decorated canvass chairs will feature in a trail around the two towns as part of the second crab and lobster festival.

Organisers have launched the 2011 event, which aims to build on the success of last year's debut festival that drew 30,000 visitors to the area.

Cooking the seafood that binds the two towns together will again be showcased, this time led by celebrity chef and cookery writer Mary Berry.

Entertainment over the main weekend of May 20-22 will include cookery demonstrations, concerts, crafts, heritage displays, family fun and an ale trail.

But replacing last year's sculpture trail of decorated crab and lobster models will be the deckchairs - literally providing a canvas for amateur and professional artists to showcase their designs.

Joint honorary president and Cromer councillor Hilary Thompson said the creations could be as wacky and weird as people wanted - but had to include a crab or lobster somewhere.

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The chairs, which would cost �60 each instead of the �200 or �400 for last year's crustacea, were picked because they were more affordable in difficult times, as well as more portable and easier to display in a wider range of places.

Last year there were 82 items in the trail and it was hoped to beat that this year. It was also being extended from the few weeks before the spring event to the whole summer from April to August, when they will be auctioned off.

The trail was aimed at promoting the businesses, clubs and societies in the two towns - so a longer trail would be better, and provide an extra attraction during the main holiday season.

Visitors would again look for letters along the trail to work out an anagram phrase, and this year would be able to vote for their favourite chair.

Earlier this year a collection of decorated deckchairs in Suffolk, which included designs by celebrities including actors Sean Bean and Maureen Lipman, raised �35,000 at auction for an Ipswich hospice.

Last year's event is among three finalists in the Community Event of the Year category of the 2010 EDP Norfolk People of the Year awards. It raised �9,000 split between the two towns' lifeboats and Help for Heroes and fellow joint president Noel Gant said it was still a talking point in the area. This year's will benefit both boats, and the Fishermen's Mission charity.

It Festival chairman Tony Shipp said the supporting programme aimed to build on last year's success. Local restaurants and cafes would have crab and lobster themed menus, and it was planned to repeat the world pier crabbing championship.

But the hunt was now on for sponsors to back the event - rising from buying a �60 chair to a major �8,000 branding deal. In between there were chances to back events such as the crabbing and deckchair art trail or become a friend of the festival.

For more information about sponsoring, buying a chair, or if people have ideas which could be included, contact festival secretary Kate Royall on 07796 463507, e-mail or visit

?People wanting to suggest ideas for the other new major event - the Cromer and Sheringham Arts Festival - or wanting to give their views on this year's inaugural programme, are being invited to a public meeting being held on Wednesday December 1 at 7pm in the Red Lion Hotel function room at Cromer.

Organisers are keen to hear from people and organisations who are keen to be involved. To register an interest visit or call 01263 519454.