Cromer’s 14th annual Folk on the Pier festival hailed as the best yet

An annual musical extravaganza that took over Cromer's pier, pubs and parkland has been hailed as the most successful in its 14 year history.

The Folk on the Pier event attracted scores of fans who flooded into venues across the town over Friday, Saturday and Sunday - and eager gig goers have already snapped up close to 200 tickets for next year's event.

This year's lineup, which included rock, blues, world music, reggae and legendary names from the folk world, was widely hailed as the festival's best to date and organiser Scott Butler said he was looking to build on the weekend's success for the festival's 15th anniversary, but admitted it would be difficult to better 2012's festivities.

Among the highlights of the weekend were performances from fiddle legend Dave Swarbrick, crowd pleasers the Oysterband, rising star Blair Dunlop, who appeared with the new folk-rock Albion Band, and Sunday's roof raising finale from brass-folk band Home Service.

The programme also paid tribute to Cromer lifeboat legend Richard Davies through an afternoon of traditional step-dancing, music and song.

Mr Davies' daughter Fiona organised the event at The Cottage in Louden Road - as part of the festival's fringe events - where she performed to a packed room as part of a quartet of traditional step-dancers, and the music and dance homage is now set to become an annual gig.

'The inspiration is obviously my dad, who was well-known for step dancing,' Fiona said, 'But we also wanted to have some traditional East Anglian tunes.'

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New to 2012's festival was a host of fringe events held at alternative venues across the town, including a string of pubs and a large marquee in North Lodge Park.

Bernard Hoskin, who was MC for the main theatre stage on Saturday and at the marquee, said: 'It has been superb. There has been a superb atmosphere and what has been really good is that we have had a wide mix of music with a very broad definition of folk, so there has been something for everyone.'

Mr Butler hoped the marquee and fringe events could return next year as early indications had shown the additional performances had been a hit.

'I'm very pleased (with how it went). The newcomers were saying they'd come back and I know it's the best one ever,' he added.

Fiddle, mandolin and guitar player Joe Broughton, has previously appeared at the festival but took to the stage with lively newcomers the Urban Folk Quartet.

He praised the pier's Pavilion Theatre for its excellent atmosphere and thought the festival was one of the country's best folk events.

He said: 'All the bands that come want to play here and know each other.

'And it's got this great focus on this fabulous building that's actually on the sea, and that's brilliant for a gig because you really feel like the audience is close and you're cut off from the real world and it gives the place a great atmosphere.'

And there was a nice surprise for entertainer Richard Digance who performed on Sunday in front of a packed crowd, which included record-producing legend Bill Leader who issued the guitarist's first LP.

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