Sunday, 29 March 2015

A food festival for Sidmouth?

Last week saw another successful Food Festival in Budleigh:
Futures Forum: Budleigh Salterton Food Festival: Fri 13th - Sun 15th March
Budleigh Salterton Food and Drink Festival - 13-14-15 March 2015
Budleigh Salterton Food and Drink Festival opens this weekend - What's on - Midweek Herald

Here's some positive feedback;
Streetlife | Just come back from Budleigh food festival

The question is whether this sort of thing could work for Sidmouth:

Does Sidmouth need a food festival of its own?

25 March 2015 Stephen Sumner

Andy Witheridge from the Salty Monk creates some chicken and wild mushroom sausages at the Budleigh Salterton Food and Drink Festival aided by King's School student and Junior South West Chef of the Year for 2014 Melissa Johnson. Ref shs 0390-12-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

The return of Budleigh Salterton’s annual food festival has prompted green-eyed looks down the coast – and renewed questions of why Sidmouth does not have one of its own.

The Loft’s Katrina Lort thinks it should and said a collaboration between the town’s restaurants and caf├ęs could boost footfall and create a real buzz.

Costs could be kept down if the eateries offered in-house demonstrations and called in favours to attract a celebrity chef.

“When we lived in Cheltenham, the food festival was huge – and it got bigger and bigger each year,” she said. “If all the restaurants got involved, we wouldn’t need to rent land or put up a marquee. Then, if it takes off, we can expand.”

Budleigh’s festival last weekend boasted big name chefs and entertainment across the town, giving businesses a ‘huge’ increase in footfall.

Katrina said Sidmouth could replicate this success by building on existing relationships between the food suppliers and eateries. The Loft is up for sale, but she wants to ‘set the wheels in motion’ for a festival this summer or next Easter.

It created a buzz when she posted the idea on social network Streetlife.

One user, Pining Lass, suggested that a 19th century-themed food festival would set Regency Sidmouth apart from other towns.

Another, Mrs Miggins, said: “Sidmouth has never been a ‘foodie’ town and maybe a food fest would kickstart a new era.”

What do readers think? Write to sidmouth.letters@archant.co.uk

1 comment

Food festivals have sprung up throughout the region in recent years (Exeter, Bridport, Bude, Topsham to name a but a few) so the question might be 'Why would Sidmouth not have its own food festival?'

What is needed, however, is a dedicated team of individuals to organise such an event. Given the potential benefits to the town I would hope that council funding would be available in addition to cash raised through sponsorship.

Whilst Katrina's idea of a modest event utilising existing catering outlets would reduce initial outlay, my own experience of festivals is that the format invariably involves at least one sizeable indoor venue (hall or marquee) for demonstrations, plus adjacent space for food, retail and entertainment concessions (which provide a major source of income).

The Budleigh festival was small but had a great feel to it with interesting demonstrations and a range of traders selling local produce and street food.

In the Ham we have a space which we know works well for Folk Week and Sea Fest and has the benefit of being close to the town centre so that festival visitors are encouraged to patronise our excellent independent eateries and shops. Surely a win win situation?

Does Sidmouth need a food festival of its own? - What's on - Sidmouth Herald

Devon and the West Country hosts lots of food festivals:

The Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink (exeterfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk), founded by the chef Michael Caines, takes place this year from 24-26 April in Exeter Castle's courtyard and Northernhay Gardens. Tickets from £7.50.

Also in Devon, River Cottage HQ in Axminster consistently champions the virtues of eating seasonally. On 23 and 24 May it will be playing host to the River Cottage Spring Food Fair (rivercottage.net).

Spring food: Nature's larder awakes and bursts into flavour - News & Advice - Travel - The Independent

See also:
Find a festival | Food Festival Finder
Walk across Porthleven harbour as bridge planned for food festival (From This is The West Country)
StrEAT Food festival comes to Barnstaple - News - North Devon Gazette
Powderham Food Festival cooks up a smokey storm in October | North Devon Journal
Dartmouth Food Festival has new chair and board members | Torquay Herald Express
The 7th Crediton Food Festival | 13-14 June 2015 in Crediton Town Square

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