Abergavenny Food Festival Conference 2010

29 Jul

 I’ve just received a Press Release from Welsh Assembly Government, WAG, which has been sent around our Best Of Welsh producers, (BOW) for their information. Included in the release  is the following:  

Abergavenny Food Festival Conference

This year’s Abergavenny Food Festival Conference will be of particular interest to anyone involved in food festivals or in the role of food in building local economies.

“Food Festivals: The Next Generation” will take a hard look at where food festivals are now and the ways in which they can evolve. Guest speakers will address issues such as growing a festival without losing touch with producers, how local food and food events can make a town successful, approaches to measuring the success of festivals, and new ways of developing a loyal audience and marketing festivals through an online community.  

 Workshop sessions will include:

  • An interactive tour of Abergavenny, to look at how food can be used to bring the town alive;
  • A Dragon’s Den for new festival ideas;
  • Hands-on session on using social media;
  • Practical branding – how to position an event to appeal to a wider audience.

The Conference takes place on 17th September 2010, at the Priory Centre, Abergavenny. Tickets cost £125, including lunch, post-conference drinks reception and two-day festival stroller ticket.

I’ve quickly had a comment through gritted teeth I think, from a producer who rightly queries, who this conference is really for? With a price ticket of £125.00 I agree with this producer’s comment that it’s for a select few whose ticket might well be paid for by their employers, i.e. by county councils or maybe the majority from WAG…….

Why not invite some smaller producers to it? The producers are the important link in this food chain, but it’s not the view I get from our BOW producers, they feel left out. I am losing all faith in Wales’ ability to communicate with our food producers, they really must learn to listen to the people that really matter and that has to be our producers – without them you don’t have a festival or even a farmers market.  

I’m not annoyed with Abergavenny for at least organising a conference but most concerend about the high price and those it will therefore exclude.


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  1. Nick Miller

    July 29, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I just wanted to respond on behalf of Miller Research, who organise and pay for the Abergavenny Conference, as part of our contribution to raising the debate about Welsh food and drink.
    The ticket price includes a whole day conference with high profile speakers, local food lunch, welsh wine reception, goody bag and a weekend ticket to the food festival, which I think is reasonable value.
    Every year we do include some subsidised places for those who can make the case – mainly unwaged and students.
    Last year’s event cost us around £2,000 in subsidy, which we felt was worth it, as there was a high level of debate and some really good networking. We’d love to offer it for nothing, but sadly can’t afford it. If your respondent would like to offer a contribution, we could subsidise a few producers to come along!

  2. admin

    July 29, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    I think that many people, including producers, are aware of the work that Miller Research do for WAG Food, but congratulate you on your contribution for the Abergavenny Conference. However the concern raised is that a ticket price of £125.00 totally rules out small producers and their contribution must surely be as important to the debate about Welsh food and drink as any high profile speaker, isn’t it? This is their livelihood after all. Perhaps my respondent might wish to offer a contribution, but half a dozen yogurts or half a pound of sausages might not be quite whatyou had in mind!
    It would be interesting to know at last year’s Abergavenny Conference how many of the attendees were from Quangos and Government employees……..

  3. admin

    July 30, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    One of our Best Of Welsh producers was quick off the mark and explained their company postion. They felt that much of what was given as some sort of justification for the ticket price, the ‘goody bag’, a ticket to the Festival, a lunch, or ‘free’ Welsh booze as bonuses – was simply not needed. They wanted the opportunity to have their voices heard & participate via meaningful contribution in the debating arena. They’d happily forego the booze, the bag & the ‘bimble’ around the Festival, taking their own flask-&-sarnies if necessary, if it meant that some of the producers could at least take part & help drive this hugely important subject forward in a focussed direction to the good of ALL involved in Welsh food business. As for ‘unwaged & students’… …why? If they are students on agri-food/food producing courses, then fine. Regarding the unwaged, if they are able to prove they’re also actively seeking employment in the local food sector, then fine. But what about offering up a few places to producers? After all, if as producers, they already have a stall at the Festival , they’re hardly in need a ‘free pass’ to enable them to wander around do they?
    Why don’t Miller Research ditch the presents & concentrate on the ‘nitty gritty’ of a meaningful conference inviting appropriate participants? Time & again many producers give up their scant spare time to take part in such debates and they do this because they care; because they are passionate about promoting Welsh food & making Welsh Food Festivals work. Plus, when promoting these events & apparently providing a ‘Welsh Menu’ why don’t ALL Welsh food producers get a ‘Round Robin’ emailed to them detailing the event and asking for samples from interested producers? Or is it just that only TTA winners that are ever included in this ‘exclusive’ Welsh Menu?