By Dave Croate
Hampton Union, Tuesday, September 15, 2009
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
(Portsmouth Herald Photo/Cheryl Senter)
HAMPTON -- Despite the rain that hit the Seacoast during the first two days of one of the region's most popular events, the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival still hauled in a big catch on Sunday.
With the sun making an extended appearance for the first time over the weekend, the 20th annual festival made up for two days of "mostly rain and wind," according to event Chairwoman Jude Davis. Davis said she didn't yet know how many people the event had brought in, she noted that it averages about 150,000 from across the United States and that Sunday's crowd was a huge one. This year, that included several people from Texas who had not been to the Seacoast in almost 20 years, and even one couple who had never seen the ocean before they came to the festival.
They came, as always, for the seafood. There were a total of 53 food vendors and 80 arts and crafts shops and sponsor booths from the Seacoast area lining the beachfront from A to H streets. Many of those who came had booked their hotel rooms a full-year in advance and would do the same thing as they left town on Sunday, Davis said.
"A lot of the crowd that comes, are coming every year for the food, entertainment and beverages," she said. "Why change something that's good?"
Inclement weather forced the cancelation of Saturday night's fireworks and left the beach damp and gray, but even then, throngs of people hit the familiar white tents to enjoy seafood and shopping.
"It was a pleasant surprise," Davis said. "But today, it was beautiful. It was great. It kind of made up for the other days."
The entertainment was varied, Davis said.
The Drifters — who she called "a class act" — performed, and at the end of the day Sunday, 26 skydivers from Skydive New England showed off their craft in the blue skies above Hampton Beach.
The event also drew a few luminaires, including Governor John Lynch.
Billy Costa of TV Diner on Boston's NECN-TV and KISS 108 radio station made a guest appearance and came away announcing that he planned to do a live show from the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival in 2010.