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Guess What? There’s Another Food Festival Organiser Conference …….

23 Sep

My thanks to the thoughtful person who sent me details of a Welsh Food Festival Conference being held next month and organised by wag food. Apparently wag food are holding another conference because the one held earlier this year was such a success. It’s no surprise to me hearing second hand about this conference because that’s how I found out about the first one. That’s what happens when you’re not on wag food’s mailing list! Wag food must have their own agenda for not telling a journalist who is so supportive of Welsh food and drink that this conference was happening. Welsh Country magazine is trying its best to back Welsh food and drink, it’s just a shame wag food don’t understand that. So of course I’m back on my soapbox about the lack of communication and just wishing wag food could grasp that communication really is the key.

Would it be too difficult to send out to food journalist the agenda and minutes or outcomes of these conferences? Sorry that was a stupid question because it hasn’t happened, wag food obviously not thinking it worth their time. After all it does take time sending out a couple of emails………………..

Wag Food sent this email out under a save the date communication. Apparently an agenda and full itinerary will follow in due course.

I can only assume it will be a fairly brief ‘conference’ as wag food tell me:

Food Festivals need to manage their own commercial decisions with regards to management, operations of their events. Each event should also maintain feedback, as part of their Quality- Systems and to maintain or better their producer / visitor experience in the future. The feedback forms do not come to Welsh Government. As you will appreciate each Food Festival is responsible to organise their own exhibiting area and food producers. This commercial situation has nothing to do with WG commissioned research and who exhibits is a matter for the said organiser.

Sure there are some Welsh food and drink producers who‘d like to be flies on the wall for that one!

 
 

Scottish Food Manufacturing Growing Twice As Fast As UK Average

08 Sep

Whilst I’m being bashed from pillar to post by wag food seemingly because I’m a journalist asking them questions they’ve no wish to answer, I’m chuffed that the Scottish Government are talking  to me. Mind you, if I were the Scottish Government I’d be broadcasting this news to all and sundry. Scotland says their annual turnover for the food and drink industry reached record levels of £14.4 billion in 2014. It makes sense that they wish to crow that these latest figures also reveal that their food manufacturing sector grew at twice the rate of the UK average, increasing by 43 per cent in Scotland compared to 21 per cent in the UK from 2008-2014. I’d like to give you the reciprocal figures from Wales, but ‘as yet’ I’ve not been sent any and haven’;t bothered asking them for those figures either!

On 4th September, at the start of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing said: “The food and drink sector continues to be one of our most successful and that success shows no sign of slowing down. The industry is vital to Scotland – it creates jobs and wealth, impacts on health and sustainability, and helps attract people to the country by promoting our food and drink around the globe. This record turnover means that the sector is making good progress towards meeting the 2017 target of £16.5 billion, which has been set by Scotland Food & Drink. We are committed to doing all we can in government to support the growth of food and drink production and the contribution it makes to Scotland’s economy. Behind all of these figures are the drive and determination of the people who make up the industry – their hard work is key to ensuring, that Scotland’s food and drink is a success.”

Scotland Food & Drink Chief Executive James Withers also welcomed the announcement. Withers said: “These are great figures and testament to a transformation in food and drink activity in Scotland over the last few years. The sector is not without challenges and uncertainty, but for a sector whose growth was stagnant a few years ago, this has been a major turnaround. The Scottish industry is now being recognised internationally for how it has embraced collaboration to grow, forging a stronger global reputation for our products. Opportunities still abound at home and overseas. We’re investing in developing new customers across the UK and in key international markets. That work, alongside deeper partnership working between different industry bodies and government, will be the key to success in the coming years and central to a new 2030 strategy to be launch early next year.”

Now let me start off by saying Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, well what a great idea, when is Wales’ Food & Drink Fortnight? Well that’s a good question, but do we have a Welsh Food & Drink Fortnight? Or is this something Welsh Country magazine and welshfoodbites.co.uk has missed? We are here with a huge passion to support Welsh food and drink so it would be a poor deal if we’ve not been told about it. Scotland’s Food & Drink target for 2017 is £16.5 billion, and they remain committed as a government to support the growth of food and drink production and the contribution it makes to Scotland’s economy. To me this is great news for Scotland and makes me think in the Scottish government is not just words from them but action to ensure their food and drink industry does grow. My fear for Wales, as it has been for far too long, is Wales is good on words, but fails on actual action. In my view we lack joined up writing. Yes of course Wales has action plans, I’ve lost count of how many action plans we’ve had over the last decade, my concern is that Wales seems to lack the capacity to turn any action plan into growth.

 

 
 

Further Update On Freedom Of Information 10621

06 Sep

Well what a pleasant surprise, today I’ve had an answer, no sorry I mean reply, to my request for a ‘review’ which was not due until 19th September. Although wag’s email response is headed as a review, wag food have dealt with my ‘review’ as a complaint. Complaint, well that must mean something to wag, but nevertheless an early reply is something, answers would have been even better, but this is wag food I’m trying to get answers from. So as I’ve been asked repeatedly what’s happening with this question, here is their reply in full:

Complaint in respect of ATISN 10621

Thank you for your letter of 19 August seeking a review of our response to your recent request for information regarding funding for food festivals.

Your complaint was:

I cannot accept that the Welsh Government do not hold any information on the questions not answered in this FOI.   

I have carried out a review of our response to you of 17 August. You asked 10 questions, and I see a response was given for points 1-4 and 7-9. On points 5, 6 and 10 our response to you was that we do not hold the information requested.

I understand your complaint to be with respect to our answers on points 5, 6 and 10, and I have restricted this review to consideration of those points.

Specifically, these points are:

  1. From which budgets or other sources of WG funding have Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff applied for and received funding for their food festivals?

   What criteria do these festivals have to meet before they can apply for funding from other than the food festival budget?

  1.      As the budget for this year’s festivals is £160k, can you explain where the remainder of this budget will be allocated?

I have spoken with officials who collated the original answer to understand what searches were undertaken to locate the information requested. I then conducted additional searches for the information requested. I have consulted with colleagues in other departments in Welsh Government who have also conducted their own searches for information.

In conducting these additional searches I have also considered the timescale you are interested in. Your first question was for:

  1. Details of all food festivals that applied for funding in 2016 and received £5k?

Officials responding to your request have therefore interpreted all subsequent questions to relate to the time period of 2016 (that is all applications for funding from 1 January 2016 to the date of your request). There is some ambiguity as to whether this includes an application for funding for a food festival taking place in 2016 where the application was received prior to 2016, so for the avoidance of doubt, I have ensured that the search specifically includes these.

These searches have not turned up any new information. In particular, under points 5 and 6, Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff have not applied for or received any funding for food festivals from other sources of funding within Welsh Government in this time period. We hold no information as to whether any other body has provided them funding external to Welsh Government.

Although they have not applied for funding in 2016, I have established that in some cases a food festival might qualify for funding from our Major Events Unit, and if their event were to qualify for funding, the criteria they would need to meet are described here:

hhttp://gov.wales/topics/tourism/marketingl1/majourevents/guidance/?lang=en.

On question 10, you asked where the remainder of this year’s food festival budget had been allocated and we replied that we do not hold recorded information in response to this query. I confirm that we do not hold recorded information on these budget allocations, as the budget has not yet been allocated.

Wag food civil servants must be in training to be politicians, as they’ve certainly learnt the art of not answering questions! I have been talking to them since March about food festival funding and yes, surprise, surprise, it’s  this year I’m interested in. This year they’ve given festivals two dates to apply for funding but then been so slow publishing a full list of funded festivals , I’ve found it pathetic. It was  August before the full list was available. How organisers managed to do their financial planning without knowing if they had wag support was total nonsense, yet as the maximum they can apply for is £5k, wag food are giving the message that basically guys fund it yourself, unless you happen to be one of the big three. Despite Welsh Country magazine supporting Welsh food and drink for over 11 years and the backing we have from so many Welsh food and drink producers, not to mention my talking to, or at wag food about Welsh food festivals, I still didn’t get sent the press release about food festival funding. How weird is that? Communication is the key, but that clearly doesn’t apply to wag food.

All I wanted to know was:

Which festivals have been funded.

Which festivals applied and didn’t get funded.

What’s happened to the remainder of the £160k food festival budget.

What government funding has been given to Abergavenny, Cardiff and Conwy.

Wag food are spending our money, so why is it so difficult, or near imposssible, to find out where that money is being spent. Somebody must be accountable for this spend but it’s infuriating they’re not willing to disclose.

If wag food think their handling of this is acceptable, then it’s further proof we are operating on different planets. I’m in the real world and they clearly are not…………………..

 
 

Update Food Festival Funding – FOI 10621

24 Aug

I posted about this Freedom Of Information Number 10621 on 19th August and was, let me say perturbed that wag food were unable to answer all my questions about food festival funding for this year.

To save you scrolling back, the questions that wag food couldn’t/wouldn’t answer are as follows:

  1. From which budgets or other sources of wag funding have Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff applied for and received funding for their food festivals?
  2. What criteria do these festivals have to meet before they can apply for funding from other than the food festival budget?

 5 & 6. We do not hold any information regarding this point.

  1. As the budget for this year’s festivals is £160k, can you explain where the remainder of this budget will be allocated?

We do not hold any information regarding this point.

In their reply wag food told me that if I wasn’t satisfied with the response offered, I could go back to them and they would then do an official review. Well dear reader I have done just that and yesterday received acknowledgement from wag food under the subject banner of a complaint! Well as far as I’m concerned wag food can call it what they wish, but to make life easier they could simply answer my questions at the first time of my asking. I’ve no wish to have to go back to wag food for a review or as in their view my complaint, all I require is my questions answered under an FOI. But now, and hardly for the first time, I’ve to chase wag again for answers to an FOI. Wag are well aware that if I’m not satisfied with their review/complaint then I am allowed to go to the Information Commissioner’s Office and they will investigate on my behalf.

Welsh Country magazine has backed and supported Welsh food and drink for over a decade. We promise our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers that we’ll pass on any relvant press releases, not that we get many through and also any foodie news to them. If they have any issues we’ll do our best to help, bearing in mind we’ve often to go to wag food to get any help………….

But that’s the system in place that I’m obliged to follow. Yet wouldn’t it be easier, quicker and cheaper for both parties if wag food would simply answer questions asked of them? How can wag and wag food  constantly forget that this is tax payers’ money they are spending?

 
 

Not Directly A Food Issue But………..

22 Aug

I’m aware of food and drink business, as we have at Welsh Country magazine, used Jobs Growth Wales.

So I’m grateful, but very annoyed to be informed today that the Labour Government has secretly cut its own job creation scheme. Jobs Growth Wales used to offer a 100% subsidy for firms to employ people aged between 16 – 24, but ministers have quietly slashed that subsidy to 50%, but without informing Assembly Members or the public.

Obviously I’m not the only one puzzled that we somehow, despite our elected Welsh Assembly Members, it feels more like we are living in a dictatorship. Shadow Secretary for the Economy, Russell George, said:

“Frankly, it’s appalling that a decision of this size can be implemented without having the courtesy to inform the public, or elected members. This is a profound change to a flagship scheme, which will undoubtedly affect take-up, and which has only come to light because a business has tipped off the media. Clearly we need to see stronger checks and balances placed on the Welsh Government. It’s not uncommon for Welsh Labour to sneak big announcements out via written statements, but this takes intransigence to new levels. It also highlights the hypocrisy at the core of their spin machine.

One minute the economy is in grave danger because of Brexit, now we’re told a 50% cut to their flagship job creation scheme is necessary because firms are doing too well. It makes no sense and I will be writing to the minister to seek clarity over the future of the scheme, and the budgetary implications of this dramatic cut to support.”

I’m puzzled by the government’s comments as our experience in the Welsh food and drink industry is that companies are not all doing well – let alone too well. To read this makes me cross when a £10k pay INCREASE for Assembly Members also basically went under the radar in fact I’m not sure that many  of the public are aware that Members got such an increase on top of their already ‘reasonable’ salary.

The problems with many governments is their ability to send out mix messages, should they send out any messages at all. Our economy is supposedly in grave danger from Brexit so our government’s idea is not to discuss it in the Senedd, but to go ahead and cut their own job creation scheme by 50%. You really couldn’t make this up!

 
 

Freedom Of Information Request 10621

19 Aug

I’m going around in ever decreasing circles trying to obtain what I think is basic information about food festival funding. I cannot understand why getting questions answered from wag food is so difficult nowadays. I thought this FOI would end the festival funding fiasco, but as all my questions have not been answered, it obviously isn’t. I now have to go back to wag and ask for a review and only then if my questions aren’t answered can I then go to the Information  Commissioner’s Office. Well it wont be the first time I’ve had to trudge that pathway to the ICO, but wag food seem happy to waste more time or as I see it, playing games. I’m not sure who these games benefit, but it certainly isn’t me! I’m totally puzzled as to why can’t tell me they don’t know where Abergavenny, Cardiff and Conwy are getting their government funding from?

Follows are my questions and wag’s answers, well some answers. Their response is shown in full.

 Thank you for your request which I received on 29th July 2016.  You asked for:

  1. Details of all food festivals that applied for funding in 2016 and received £5k.
  1. If not, what did each festival receive?

 

1 & 2 Details of Welsh Government funded Food Festivals are published at: https@//businesswales.gov.wales/foodanddrink/food-tourism. 

  1. Did any festivals apply for funding and were refused?
  2. If so on what grounds were they refused?

        

  3 & 4 No.

  1. From which budgets or other sources of wag funding have Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff applied for and received funding for their food festivals?
  2. What criteria do these festivals have to meet before they can apply for funding  from other than the food festival budget?

 

5 & 6 We do not hold any information regarding this point.

  1. Can you clarify why wag are listed on Abergavenny’s website as a partner?
  2. Can you clarify why Conwy’s website states supported by wag with 4 wag logos? Are four logos mandatory? Or does it relate to the various wag sources they have taken funding from?

 

7 & 8 Historically these events have received support via Welsh Government and/or EU funding programmes.

      9. Although the deadline for completed applications is the 14th July 2016 and requests were being    approved within 2 weeks, there are still only nine festivals listed on Wag’s website can you inform me of    the others that have been approved?

 

As question 1 above. 

 10. As the budget for this year’s festivals is £160k, can you explain where the remainder of this budget will be allocated?

 

We do not hold any information regarding this point.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the Welsh Government’s handling of your request, you can ask for an internal review within 40 working days of the date of this response.  Requests for an internal review should be addressed to the Welsh Government’s Freedom of Information Officer at:

Information Rights Unit, Welsh Government, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NQ

or Email: FreedomOfInformationOfficer@wales.gsi.gov.uk

Please remember to quote the ATISN 9881 reference number.   (THIS IS AN INCORRECT NO. KR) Number

You also have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner.  The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:  Information Commissioner’s Office,

Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

However, please note that the Commissioner will not normally investigate a complaint until it has been through our own internal review.

 
 

Food Festival Funding – Was My Time Worth It?

18 Aug

I daren’t work out how much time and effort it has taken to get the second list of festival funding from the Welsh Government. Trying to get this information has been, to put it politely, frustrating. Add to this I’ve no idea why wag food think publishing the second list of food festivals mid August achieves much for anyone.

I was told by the press office that I would be sent a link to this second tranche of food festival funding but that would be next week, however a helpful person in wag food and yes I did say helpful, told me yesterday that the list would be available on Thursday and it was!!! Think this comes close to wag food and I having joined up writing, but even though I suspect only a temporary basis, it was a great help. This lsit will of course be sent around all our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers as they have been the ones asking me questions.

This will surprise regular readers, but for once I was going to publish the list of food festivals in Welsh Country, but as our S/October issue went to press yesterday, that opportunity has been lost. But I am thinking now it’s perhaps better to let wag food get on with what they think works best for them. If I was a festival organiser, I’d not be happy, assuming the second list people have only just been informed, but as wag food have now put in a £5k limit then maybe they’d question why bother for the amount of paperwork they have to complete. But perhaps that’s just wag food being clever. If wag food continue to be slow to award any funding, perhaps festivals will either decide to stop their event or decide, somehow to do without any funding. As wag food want festivals to be self-supporting maybe this is their plan to achieve it. But will that help Welsh food and drink producers?

I’m aware that Abergavenny have not been pleased that their offering from wag food used to be £52k and now the maximum is £5k. So as this list doesn’t show funding to festivals such as Abergavenny, Conwy and Cardiff, where are they getting their funding from? These festivals have obviously decided agains going to wag food for funding so have they gone to Visit Wales and the Major Events Unit for their cash offering? I’ve asked a Freedom Of Information request to get that information and when I have the answer to that one, I’ll let you know. My other query is as I was told this year’s food festival budget  was £160k but adding totalling this list it accounts for £85, 068. So what happens to the remainder? Meanwhile here is the full list of wag funded festivals:

Welsh Government Supported Food Festivals 2016
Food Festival Festival Date Grant
Cowbridge Food Festival 29th  / 30th  May £5,000
Newcastle Emlyn Food Festival 11th June £2,581
Hay Summer Food Festival 1st July £2,351
Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival 3rd  July £5,000
Cardigan River and Food Festival 6th August £5,000
Big Welsh Bite 6th / 7th August £3,075
Menai Seafood Festival 20th August £5,000
Newtown Food & Community Festival 3rd  / 4th  September £5,000
St Fagans Food Festival 10th /11th  September £4,960
Gwyl Fwyd Beaumaris 10th /11th  September £5,000
Narbeth Food Festival 23rd / 25th  September £5,000
Margam Country Park Food Festival 24th / 25th  September £5,000
Newport Food & Drink Festival 1st October £5,000
Brecon Beacons Food Festival 1st October £4,750
Llangollen Food Festival 15th / 16th October £5,000
Llandudno Christmas Fayre 17th / 20th November £5,000
Hay Winter Food Festival 26th November £2,351
Portmeirion Christmas Food and Drink 2nd / 4th December £5,000
Abergavenny Christmas Food & Drink 11th December £5,000
 
 

Still Waiting For The 2nd Lot Of Festival Funding

04 Aug

I’m finding life hard work trying to get information from the Welsh Food department. Please don’t ask me why, all I’m trying to do is my job, ask questions, get answers and not to be pushed around in circles which ultimately creates more work for everyone. It seems to me that wasting time is easier when you get paid at the end of each month, regardless of whether you’ve done a good job or a bad job.

At the moment I’m chasing to find out which festivals have been funding by wag food in the second batch. The closing date for this second tranche was 14th July and I was told these applications would be dealt within two weeks. Well dear Reader, that is a wag ‘two weeks’ because as on 3rd August there is nothing about the second lot on wag’s website. As far as I’m aware, wag food haven’t sent out a press releasebut I’m not sure. I was promised by wag that I was on their press mailing list, but for some reason, known only to them of course, I didn’t get the first food festival press release. So just in case that had happened again…….. I went on the wag’s website again, but there’s still nothing posted.

I’ve also asked the press office how Abergavenny food festival, Conwy food festival and Cardiff food festival are being funded this year. But I have been told again that ‘I’d agreed’ that I’d not ask them questions for welshfoodbites. Well that’s not  true.  I was told by the Welsh Government press office that they wouldn’t answer any questions for  a blog and that’s what welshfoodbites is. But that’s not my ‘agreeing’ to it when there wasn’t a choice offered to me. My other point is that any Welsh food & drink information that I think is relevant, I post on welshfoodbites, but also email it around our Best Of Welsh & Borders, (BOW) producers. I’m communicating with our producers, which can only be a good thing surely? However it seems that wag think our BOW producers are not important either.

I was told the Welsh Government is being transparent in it’s dealings, well what does that mean? Is it more wag words and no actions? Or is it just lip service to us, wag telling us what they think we want to hear? It just feels like it’s a further dig at Welsh Country and I can’t see why when we are trying to promote Welsh food and drink as we are promoting our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, as we promote any Welsh markets and Welsh food festivals that want to work with Welsh Country magazine. What is the problem with that? I simply don’t understand it.

But if I can’t talk to the press office I can use Freedom Of Information (FOI), so I can get questions answered, well that’s the theory anyway but I’ve met problems there too over the years. Then I can put those answers on welshfoodbites. So why can’t wag save time and money and simply answer my questions? That makse sense to me but sadly doesn’t  to wag.

Well as I can’t get that information on the three big ones from the press office of wag’s website, then my only other option is to send through a Freedom Of Information question which was done on 29th July. Today I still wait for an acknowledgment……………………………….

 
 

BOW Winners At Dairy Exhibitor Awards AT RWAS

21 Jul

Good news in that a number of our Best Of Welsh & Border producers were scooping the honours in the Dairy Produce Awards held at the Royal Welsh Show this week. Well done guys. Here they are just some of them as there were such a lot:

The Aeron Valley Cheese Masters Perpetual Trophy Awarded for Supreme Champion Cheese.

Caws Cenarth

The Eurwen Richards Award For The Best Produced Cheese.

Caws Cenarth

The Marks & Spencer Perpetual Trophy for The Best Regional Cheese.

Caws Cenarth

Special RWAS Prize Card & Rosette Awarded To President’s Preference In Cheese Section.

Carmarthenshire Cheese Company

The Caws Cenarth Perpetual Trophy Awarded For Excellence In Cheese Making HNOP.

Carmarthenshire Cheese Company

Farmhouse Classes.

Traditional Welsh Caerphilly.

Place   Exhibitor     

1.  Caws Cenarth

2.  Caws Teifi Cheese

  1. Carmarthenshire Cheese Company

Farmhouse Hard Pressed Cheese (excluding Caerphilly).

  1. Caws Teifi Cheese

2. Caws Teifi Cheese

  1. Carmarthenshire Cheese Company

Farmhouse Smoked Cheese, Hard Pressed.

  1. Caws Teifi Cheese
  2. Caws Cenarth
  3. Carmarthenshire Cheese Company

Tonnes/Week, Any Variety, Cow’s Milk.

  1. Caws Cenarth
  2. Carmarthenshire Cheese Company
  3. Caws Teifi Cheese

Cheese, Any Variety, Not Cow’s Milk.

  1. Caws Cenarth
  2. Carmarthenshire Cheese Company

Cheese, Any Variety Not To Exceed 0.5kg, Any Milk.

  1. Carmarthenshire Cheese Company
  2. Caws Cenarth
  3. Caws Teifi Cheese

New Cheese Not Previously Exhibited At RWAS, Any Variety, Any Milk.

  1. Caws Cenarth
  2. Carmarthenshire Cheese Company

Hard Cheese, Savoury Additive.

  1. Caws Teifi Cheese
  2. South Caernarfon Creameries
  3. Carmarthenshire Cheese Company

Hard Cheese, Sweet Additive.

  1. Caws Cenarth

Any Other Named Variety.

  1. Caws Cenarth

Soft Cheese, Any Variety, Natural (No Additives).

  1. Carmarthenshire Cheese Company
  2. Carmarthenshire Cheese Company

Organic Cheese, Hard Variety.

  1. Carmarthenshire Cheese Company

Organic Cheese, Soft Variety.

  1. Carmarthenshire Cheese Company
  2. Caws Cenarth

One 250g Pack Of Salted Farm Butter, Any Milk.

  1. Bodnant Welsh Food

 

Best Of Welsh & Borders producers were awarded prizes in the yogurt classes prizes including: Village Dairy, Hufenfa’r Castell and Trioni Ltd.

 
 

Food Festival Funding

20 Jul

I’ve totally lost count of the number of emails I’ve sent to the press office asking for a list of food festivals that wag have funded for 2016. It has got more and more time consuming over the years to get this information from wag food. But why you might ask, as I obviously do? Well I haven’t a clue, it’s something I struggle to understand. Wag food have an obligation to provide this information as they are spending public money, but they have no obligation at all to be helpful and professional about doing so. Obviously I can only relate my experience, but I can say that it is annoying and disappointing.

Apparently this year the most festivals can ask for – and sometimes get – a maximum of £5k from this budget. But now I understand that festivals can ‘officially’ apply for funding from other wag budgets. Something which in the past wag food has said never happened, as festivals could only go for one source of government funding. Regular readers will recall my trying to find out which festivals got funding from the Major Events Unit, more information which was touch to getand ended up with my having to do a Freedom Of Information question. Festivals can now apply for funding in full of for ‘selected’ areas such as waste management.

The first batch of festivals being funded as of 20th June wag are:

Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival, Cowbridge (29/30 May)

Newcastle Emlyn Food Festival, Newcastle Emlyn (11 June)

Hay Summer Food Festival, Hay-on-Wye (1 July)

Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival, Aberaeron (3 July)

Cardigan River & Food Festival, Cardigan (6 August)

Narberth Food Festival, Narberth (23-25 September)

Llangollen Food Festival, Llangollen (15/16 October)

Hay Winter Food Festival, Hay-on-Wye (26 November)

Christmas Food & Drink Fair, Abergavenny (11 December)

This is the first funding tranche as the official closing date for festival funding is 14th July. Festivals should then know two weeks later, around the 28th if they have been successful or not. As to when I’ll get details of this second tranche, I wouldn’t even hazard a guess.

Each year I say things can’t get worse getting information from wag food, but I’m constantly proved wrong, so thanks wag for a lack of communication, yes even to the press. All I want to know is which festivals wag food are funding, how much they are getting, which festivals have applied and not been successful. I like to know this information and I say early because we often put information on welshcountry.co.uk and welshfoodbites.co.uk. As a company we always also send this food festival information to all our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, firstly because wag food don’t do so and secondly because our producers are interested to know who gets what, which is fair enough as it’s our money. So I get this list last week of nine festivals that have been funded and four of them have already been and gone!

Food festival funding was a question I got asked about on Monday at the RWAS, but I could only relay the info. I’d got however did suggest producers could ask wag food staff. Of course I was being silly as it seems like me our producers have little idea who wag food staff are.

Wag food must have their reasons for changing the food festival funding again, but they are reasons they are not sharing, purely because they don’t have too, rather than no-one would be interested. But to only get the first list of festivals mid July is not a great deal of use. Yes of course it makes me cross when Welsh Country magazine set out its stall – sorry poor pun – to promote Welsh food and drink. I don’t know which festivals applied and got rejected. I still don’t know how much the likes of Abergavenny, Cardiff and Conwy festivals have been funded this year either. Perhaps wag food think I haven’t a right to know this information, but if they don’t tell me then I’ll have to send through another Freedom Of Information question. But why should this be necessary?

I was further insulted by wag food last week when they didn’t even send me the press release relating to food festival funding, although it was sent to other Welsh media! This is despite their promise that Welsh Country magazine would receive all food and drink press releases. Welsh Country magazine, the pan Wales magazine that has supported/promoted Welsh food and drink for over a decade is left off wag food’s press mailing list, who would believe that?

Do you think I should take this latest insult personally………………….?