A History of Aquafest

In the 1970 the East Cambs District Council completed the Maltings and its surrounds. The Riverside Walk was completed from Ely High Bridge to Lavender Green and on the opposite side the Marina was made larger and became an attractive feature.

One Rotarian, Stan Baker, felt that Ely was not making enough uses of this amenity and proposed a Gala day, to be organized by Rotarians, for fun for all of the people of Ely and District, and to raise money for charities.

Thus the annual event Aquafest was born and every first Sunday in July, since 1978, the Gala has been staged by the Rotary Club of Ely and more recently with the help of the Ely Hereward Rotary Club.

Many local charities, too small to organize their own major event, have joined us by hiring a pitch and making funds for themselves.

The River Festival has always been the highlight of the day with 20 to 30 rafts paddling down to the Cutter and then making the return journey to Lavender Green with thousands of spectators roaring them on and usually hoping that some of the competitors will finish in the Ouse. It is doubtful that a year has passed without some of the competitors, and often their raft, failing to complete the distance, though so far everyone has survived the ordeal.