Dad Talk: Festival ‘Steers’ families in the right direction

Light art installation by Mick Stephenson at Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage 2017. Saturday 9 September. w173502e Picture: Ceri Oakes
Light art installation by Mick Stephenson at Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage 2017. Saturday 9 September. w173502e Picture: Ceri Oakes

Step back in time to one of the most dramatic and enchanting seaside locations on the Yorkshire coast and you may find more than you bargained for.

Once the kids had escaped school for the final time last term, the arrival of the summer holidays meant six-and-half weeks of finding things to do.

Colourful spin art for all at Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage 2017. Saturday 9 September. w173502c Picture: Ceri Oakes

Colourful spin art for all at Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage 2017. Saturday 9 September. w173502c Picture: Ceri Oakes

Weather-wise, the amount of rain meant some days were not suitable for being outdoors much, other than to remove slugs from the garden, but we managed to pack plenty into the nicer days, having devised a list of days out and attractions to keep our two children entertained.

Everything from crazy golf on the clifftop (my son was not amused when his competitive cousin won a free go by getting a hole in one on the final hole) to trying our hand at making sticks of rock in Bridlington; from wrestling (not us, I mean perma-tanned oily men in daft costumes) to squeezing down the damp, dark old coal mines of Beamish.

But safe to say one of the best family attractions took place after the kids had gone back to school and that was the fantastic art festival in Staithes – known locally as Steers – which took place this last weekend.

The quaint seaside village, with its Tobermory-style pastel coloured cottages, attracted many thousands of people to the festival, the idea of which is chiefly to help promote local artists but has now grown to such an extent, it draws in exhibitors on a far wider scale.

Numerous cottages opened their doors to artists displaying oil paintings, textiles, glassware and cartoons, while wicker hares, a family of elephants and other animals could be found at various locations.

On top of this, the event also featured a light show, a chance to see nostalgia photos of the village and take part in workshops.

Aside from the visual aspect – and the burgers and ice creams – there is also great educational value in being in Staithes.

For starters, it looks like something out of a history book, some of the cottages date back to smuggling times and it was quite endearing to see how little some have changed over the decades.

With a bit of exploration, the numerous nooks and crannies and back alleys reveal all sorts of little treasures, from wall art to pop-up cafes and a spider the size of Aragog, although this wasn’t part of the festival, just a mutant autumn arachnid.

Younger ones may recognise Staithes as being the location for CBeebies show Old Jack’s Boat, starring veteran actor Bernard Cribbins, while it was also home to a teenage Captain James Cook. There are various references to both around the village.

Also to be admired are the entrepreneurial skills of the Staithes Athletics Club – charging a fiver per car for parking up the whole day, they must have made a small fortune from their enterprise and I, for one, was happy to give my money to a local sports club.

All in all, there was plenty of variety and intrigue for people of all ages and I can genuinely say this was one of the highlights of my year.