Dr David Ford looks back on 30 years of the Fes­ti­val of Fish­keep­ing.

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Contents -

The last Fes­ti­val of Fish­keep­ing, plas­tics in UK es­tu­ary-caught fish, and the dis­cov­ery of a fos­silised fish with real bite.


HE FED­ER­A­TION of British Aquatic So­ci­eties (FBAS) cel­e­brates its 80th an­niver­sary this year. Thirty years ago FBAS started to mark the end of its sea­son of Pet­fish Club Shows with a week­end fes­ti­val. This started life as Fish­world, but proved so suc­cess­ful that it be­came the an­nual Fes­ti­val of Fish­keep­ing.

Over the years, the fes­ti­val took place ev­ery­where from Lon­don to Manch­ester, but its most suc­cess­ful pe­riod was in the 1990s with week­end shows at sea­side hol­i­day camps in­clud­ing Sandy Bay in We­ston-su­per-mare, Brack­le­sham Bay Hol­i­day Cen­tre in West Sus­sex, and Mill Rythe Hol­i­day Vil­lage on Hayling Is­land.

Aquar­ist & Pond­keeper mag­a­zine was the orig­i­nal main spon­sor of the fes­ti­val, but when that ti­tle folded, Prac­ti­cal Fish­keep­ing took over.

For the last six years the fes­ti­val has been held at Houn­slow Ur­ban Farm in Feltham, Mid­dle­sex. With three mar­quees of tanks, clubs, man­u­fac­tur­ers and com­pe­ti­tions, the fes­ti­val here ini­tially proved a suc­cess, but over the fol­low­ing years at­ten­dance gradually faded.

The ab­sence of a so­cial event, as seen at the hol­i­day camps, was viewed as one con­trib­u­tory fac­tor, but also the cost of travel and, of course, the clos­ing of so many lo­cal clubs as ev­ery­one turns to the in­ter­net for fish­keep­ing ad­vice.

No longer vi­able, the com­mit­tee de­cided that 2018 would be the last Fes­ti­val of Fish­keep­ing. With just two mar­quees, it was a rather sad af­fair with lots of rem­i­nisc­ing and farewell speeches. The fes­ti­val was home to the British Open Com­pe­ti­tion, open to all aquar­ists, and the FBAS Supreme Fi­nal where fed­er­a­tion mem­bers com­pete. Classes in­clude Best Pairs, Best Breeder, the Betta Com­pe­ti­tion, and in re­cent years, the pop­u­lar Di­a­mond Class where FBAS clubs choose their fish of the year to com­pete.

FBAS chair­man Keith Cocker said th­ese pop­u­lar events must con­tinue and a spe­cial AGM will be held soon to de­cide how this will be done.

And so, end of an era. Never again will the fish and their own­ers be si­lenced by the roar of planes land­ing next door at Heathrow ev­ery two min­utes!

Handed over for the fi­nal time!

The first fes­ti­val guide, 1988.

Trade stands galore.

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