Eels will once again be the flavour of the month with the return of Ely's Eel Festival weekend.
The celebrations begin on Saturday 4 May at 10.30am, when 'Ellie the Eel' will be heading a carnival like procession from Cross Green (adjacent to the Cathedral) along part of the City's Eel Trail Heritage Walk.
Everybody is welcome to join in the procession which will be led by Ely's Samba Band, who will guide everyone down to the Riverside and into Jubilee Gardens where a host of eel related activities will be held as well as Ely's annual Town Crier's Competition.
There will be a full programme of arena events including musical performances, children's activities and historical re-enactments with plenty of opportunities for family participation.
The highlight for many will be the return of the Eel Throwing competition. The tournament, open to children and adults, is a chance for children to battle against their parents to see who can throw the handmade eels the furthest to be crowned the World Eel Thrower Champion.
Other activities include pottery workshops, children's storytelling, Folk music tent and plenty of refreshments including hog roast, real ales and of course the opportunity to sample eel delicacies.
Local eel catcher, Peter Carter is also back to explain the history of eel catching and there will be an opportunity to see how eel baskets are made and have a go yourself.
Tracey Harding, Tourism Team Leader at East Cambridgeshire District Council said: “Eel day is far more than just one event - it is a full on weekend of eel related fun. It all begins with the procession to the Riverside with 'Ellie the Eel' leading the way to the beat of the samba band. Once everyone arrives at the Jubilee Gardens, there will be a day long to the eel.
“From the tension of the Eel Throwing competition to musical performances and historical re-enactments, they will be so much to see and do. This includes marvelling at the sight and sounds of Ely's annual Town Crier's Competition, listening to stories from the past or tucking into some of the fine food on offer.Whatever the weather, Eel Day is always a success as it is so vibrant, colourful and extravagant but all about the humble little eel.”
Eel Day is part of Ely's Eel Festival weekend, which runs from 4th to 6th May.
On Sunday, there will be a ‘Living History’ day at Oliver Cromwell’s House where visitors can learn how Mrs Cromwell made her famous Eel Pie, see how she spun wool for knitting and speak to civil war soldiers about life on the battlefields.
Then on the Bank Holiday Monday morning, a guided walk has been organised around the City’s Eel Trail. The Friends of Jubilee Gardens are hosting their annual ‘Song and Dance’ down by the river with performances from the Octagon Studios. Finally for those wishing to hunt out a bargain, visit the Flower, Food and Craft Market on Ely’s Market Place where a host of traders will be selling their fine produce.
It had been hoped to extend Eel Day into the evening this year with a flotilla of illuminated boats. Unfortunately, due to the poor weather many boat owners have been able to get their boats into the water to adequately prepare for the event. They are very disappointed but hope that the evening parade can be resurrected on another date.
For further information about the day, contact Aileen Sharp, Tourism Development Officer at East Cambridgeshire District Council on 01353 616397 or check out the website at www.eastcambs.gov.uk/tourism.