Lively food festival brightens dull day

October 31 2018
Thumbnail Image

DESPITE a wet and windy start to the day, nothing was going to dampen the spirit of Wells Food Festival and visitors turned up in their thousands to enjoy the sixth annual event.

“We were probably down slightly on last year’s figures when the weather was unseasonably warm and people visited in their droves,” Charlotte Steele, a festival director, before a final estimate was made.

“But considering the rain downfall in the morning, we were absolutely delighted by the numbers. We’d like to thank everyone who wrapped up and braved the weather.”

Visitors had come from far and wide to enjoy the region’s finest food and drink producers. As well as some familiar favourites, there were an impressive number of first-timers taking part, including some new companies. This was demonstrated by The Smoke Folk from Frome who not only won The Cognique Award for Best Start-Up Business, but also The Old Mill Best in Show Award.

Wayne Bastian, from Old Mill, who was on the judging panel, said: “It was a real joy to visit their stall. It is a new social enterprise and is run by two passionate and enthusiastic individuals. We were so impressed by the range of products, from cheese and garlic to fish and salt, along with their sustainable sourcing and attention to detail in the smoking process. To top it all, it was a fantastic looking, cleverly lit stall. I think we can expect great things from The Smoke Folk going forward.”

In the Town Hall, the food photography workshops were well attended and an interesting group of speakers gathered for an informal talk entitled It’s Time We Talked About Local Food. Organiser, Paddy O’Hagan, said: “Food and the landscape is fundamental to our way of life here in Somerset, and will become increasingly pertinent over the coming years. It was great to see so many people interested in the discussion.”

In the Recreation Ground, a constant stream of people visited the Discovery Zone and met some rare Somerset breeds of farm animals in the Bath & West’s Farmyard. The Sauerkrautathon marquee was buzzing throughout the day, where 430kg of vegetables were chopped by an army of volunteers for the sauerkraut Guinness World Book of Records attempt, with an impressive line-up of speakers extolling the virtues and importance of fermented foods and gut health.

“The day was a complete success,” said festival director, Jon Abbott.

“It was a real celebration of our local food and drink industry. We couldn’t have asked for more, from the number of talented producers taking stands, the crowds of visitors who came along regardless of the weather, the ever-growing list of sponsors whose generosity is integral to the festival’s continuation and finally the unbelievably dedicated team of volunteers who work throughout the year to actually bring this festival to fruition. Once again, the ‘sold out’ signs on the stands by 4.30pm says it all.”