Last week-end marked the start of the sixth successful season of Whitstable Harbour Village.
It’s yesterday once more.
It seems only yesterday that those early pioneering traders were cowering under their gazebos and hiding in their converted portacabins trying to shelter from bitter gale force winds and driving hail. Since those early years the Village has been threatened with eviction, flooding, storms, economic recession, electrical disconnection and harbour redevelopment.
Most people in Whitstable thought we were all mad to try and run a local producers market in a harbour and at times we thought they might be right.
Those courageous local artists, artisans and entrepreneurs braved everything thrown at them by the worst elements of nature and bureaucracy. Now there are thirty smart fisherman’s huts and the village attracts visitors from all over the world. Many of our original traders have prospered, going on to set up smart shops and galleries in Whitstable, Canterbury and Faversham.
Let’s focus on food.
This year we have more of a Kentish food focus with an impressive local food and drink quarter with new additions like Gourmet Fishcakes who were talent spotted at last summer’s EPICENTRE food and drink event at the Whitstable Oyster Festival. Natasha joins us from The Shake Shed in Canterbury to offer their impressive menu of delicious milkshakes and Lewis at the Kentish Cheesecake Company is now offering a hot crepe service in the colder months. With this added to the Taste of Kent award winning Curry Hut, the fabulous South Quay Coffee hut run by Phil and Sarah’s recently revamped Cafe Quayside we have a strong offering of the best in local food and drink. Try an alternative lunch or snack with us this season.
In the middle of a tough recession we have more local start up and small businesses on our waiting list than ever before but there is no more space in the harbour and enquiries with other local authorities in Kent have not led anywhere. Despite the struggles of the last five years, I still passionately believe that if you want to have a strong local economy you need to support local entrepreneurs who have a stake in the community and are willing to invest in it. The tragic story of Pfizer only reminds us that giant multinationals will always leave town when the figures don’t quite add up, taking their jobs with them.
Come the revolution all will be well but in the meantime, let’s keep our fingers crossed for a sunny and successful 2012 season.