The first Hastings Day celebration was a very quiet affair. It was held on the steps of the Hastings Shire offices with former Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies giving the address.
The date was 14 October 1969, and this simple ceremony was held in conjunction with 18 other Hastings townships across the world to commemorate the 900th year of the Battle of Hastings.
The celebration continued annually on October 14, with new events added to the program each year. But then in 1978, major changes took place. The first was to change the date from October to March because the weather would be better.
The 1978 Hastings Day was not held, with the March 1979 Hastings Day becoming a resounding success. There was a street parade, a Miss Shire of Hastings quest, fireworks, wood-chopping contests and rides across the weekend. There was also a documentary created of the 1979 Hastings Day, which can be viewed at the bottom of this page.
Each year, more features have been added, with the festival becoming a proud and dynamic display of all local activities.
The Shire of Hastings originally co-ordinated the festival with the support of a committee. In 1987 the festival committee became an incorporated body, taking full control of the planning with continued support from the Shire of Hastings. 1987 also brought a change of name to the festival: from Hastings Day to Western Port Festival.
The festival has remained as an incorporated association since then, and has grown and evolved over the years with events such as the water festival and watersports on Western Port, bands on the main stage, half day marathons, skate parties, community competitions, tug of war, field days and moree.
The committee hopes to continue the traditions while adding new and exciting events in future years, while keeping the festival local and community based.