Fat Tuesday the fast-growing Hastings festival back for another year. This year comprised a Mardi Gras style series of events that brought audiences from across the region together to celebrate the area’s rich diversity of live music and visual arts. It also raised funds for local good causes. Five days of events were scheduled for this year’s festival, beginning with a launch evening on Friday, 4th March, at St Mary’s in the Castle. This showcased film shorts by local filmmakers and presented a rare screening of Les Blank’s 1978 New Orleans documentary ‘Always For Pleasure,’ followed by music and drinks. Saturday afternoon was dedicated to young up-and-coming musicians and songwriters from across the region by way of the SXSE (South by Southeast) music competition, inspired by the similarly named SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. Hosted at the Crypt and Brass Monkey, this event was supported by local promoters, producers, and the Making Musicians music school. Great prizes were on offer, including headlining SXSE @ The Carlisle on Fat Tuesday evening.
Saturday featured family costume and construction workshops for the ‘Preservation Sunday’ Parade. ‘Preservation Sunday’ was a colorful New Orleans style family day with an Umbrella Parade led by a host of local trad-jazz musicians. Costumes and umbrella sculptures were created by Radiator Arts and members of the public; they also came from a series of community and school art projects supported by Radiator Arts. The Parade centered on George Street, Butlers Gap, and The Black Market bar and restaurant where musical entertainment continued through the afternoon. Costumes and sculptures remained on show until early evening. Many businesses along George Street contributed to the festivities by offering New Orleans style entertainment and refreshments. ‘Slim Monday’ was a low-key jam evening featuring King Size Slim and other local musicians at The Street, anticipating the finale of the Festival the following day.
‘Fat Tuesday’ (8 March, Shrove Tuesday) saw 20 acts delivering a total of 24 hours of free, live musical entertainment in one evening across 10 venues. This was a Hastings style dressing-up event, and many of the Preservation Sunday costumes and sculptures were on show again. The 10 venues were located across St Leonards and Hastings New and Old Town; all the acts performed short sets in several locations, so each venue featured 6 acts through the evening. A prestigious prize for the most outrageous and creatively styled venue inspired fierce competition, and it was anticipated that even more extreme ‘venue pimping’ was witnessed over the preceding weekend, with Radiator Arts on hand to contribute to the process of ‘decoration.’ Fat Tuesday also presented ‘SXSE @ The Carlisle’ where the winner and runners-up from the SXSE competition wowed the crowds and finally, the notorious ‘After Show Party’ at the Crypt. The “After Show Party” crowned a very colorful and lively evening that was the highlight of the whole Festival!