The Potty Festival was started by the Lobster Potties Morris dancers in 1993, by Reg Grimes the then Squire (Chairman), Clive Rayment Foreman (Dance teacher) and Penny Shepherd Bagman (Treasurer), as a way of saying thank you to the sides that had invited the Potties to visit them for a weekend of dance. So the following year in July with Briggate Morris, Belchamp and Old Bull Morris, we set forth on a coach tour of North Norfolk stopping off and dancing at various spots along the way.
The weekend proved such a success that it was decided to hold it again the following year. And so it began. Firstly in a small way inviting one or two more sides and still travelling out and about. Two years later it was decided to make it a static event along the lines of the Rochester Sweeps Festival which we had first been invited to in 1993 and had enjoyed meeting and making new friends there.
To begin with the sides just danced in Sheringham High Street and Lifeboat Plain. We relied on donation/sponsorship from the town council and the Lobster Landlords Barry and Jill Horner to help fund the festival. Gradually over the years the Festival has grown and grown with more sides coming along each year, including several European groups ,so much so that we now also have to close and use more roads to fit everyone in. Because of this increase we now have to restrict the number of sides we can safely have coming to the festival to forty.
In 2013 after 27 years the Lobster Potties sadly disbanded due to the lack of dancers, but it was decided by several ex Potties not to let the festival go the same way. A new committee was formed to keep the festival alive now headed by Clive Rayment (ex squire) as chairman. We intend to build on the experiences gained over the years.
With the help of the traders and townspeople the festival now draws a large crowd of visitors and holiday makers into Sheringham each July. Its popularity with the dancers and visitors keeps them coming back, some booking their holidays to coincide with the festival each year.
Incredible as it may seem, 2018 will be the 25th Anniversary of the Potty Festival here in Sheringham, we've come a long way since our early beginnings.