Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival

12 Jul

There were plenty of top chefs there on Sunday showing off their talents as they cooked an incredible selection of seafood right before your very eyes. At sample pots costing just £2.50, it’s no surprise that the chefs sold out as their supplies quickly dwindled. Thankfully Mary Ann Gilchrist from Carlton Riverside, Llanwrtyd Wells, Welsh Country’s resident chef writer remembered our forward order and we enjoyed a lovely break with products fresh from the sea and a quick catch up with Mary Ann. There were about 20 stands selling their fish dishes and it was great to see the likes of Steve Terry from the Hardwicke, who I’d judged on Great British Menu a few years ago, cooking alongside Bryan Webb from Tyddyn Lan, Llandrillo, Dudley Newbery from S4C and the lovely Gareth Johns from The Wynnstay, Machynlleth – we were spoilt with clever chefs.

Alongside the hot food, there were about 20 food stands, including Ralph’s Cider, Penlon, Gill’s Plaice, Merlin Cheese, Celtic Crab, Welsh Mustard and Tefi Cheese to name just a few. Opening hours we officially only 11.30 – 4.00 and amidst huge crowds at times most traders were having a good show which was such a relief to hear.

It was interesting hearing comments from visitors and to learn that basics festival mistakes are still not sorted, people were saying there was still a lack of signage and banners and although locals knew where it was it was a struggle for some visitors. There were grumbles too about the crowds and how difficult it was to see the chefs cooking and hard to push buggies and wheelchairs because of the limited space. I saw one guy on crutches and he was lucky to keep his balance. One local lady said the event should be moved to the grassed area in the Square, but said to me that would never happen as it was The Harbourmaster’s show after all! I understand this, with sea food and the linked attraction to the harbour area, but the event is a victim of their own success and I can really see that lady’s point. With all this lovely food to sample there was hardly any seating to be had and balancing drinks, food, and keeping hold of children and elderly relatives, needed skills that not many seemed to have. It really spoiled what should have been a great, relaxing, fun experience.

I got taken to task by a young lady as I passed a small display area for fork2fork, she saw my badge, assumed I was fork2fork and wasn’t at all pleased when I couldn’t tell her where the staff for fork 2fork where!!!

It was great to see two areas for musical and dance entertainment but I felt sorry for the traders by The Hive – the singer there had no volume control and they couldn’t hear themselves speak or listen easily to their potential customers. Surely officials should be keeping an eye on things like that and being aware that traders do not need these distractions when they are trying to sell – it really is not fair on them.

There was also a distinct lack of bins and a basic like this should surely be covered. I’m not sure if any Wag official attended to check out this event, but as Wag had given £9,429.00 funding I would have expected someone there. Maybe I just missed them or maybe they just missed me.

But it was good to see some happy traders for a change.


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  1. visitor

    July 12, 2011 at 11:06 am

    you are spot on
    I went with my daughter, 2 grandsons and elderly, frail mother. Tables and chairs, somewhere to feed the boys in comfort and give my mum a rest and a break – it was impossibe for us. Too many generations, but it didn’t work for us and we had to go home to eat – which was not the point at a food festival. All that money given and we were squashed like sardines.
    I live outside the town but didn’t see any signs and was lucky to be told by a friend it was on.
    Nothing in Welsh Country magazine which surprised me

  2. admin

    July 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    thanks for leaving your comment, it’s brilliant to get feedback. Sorry there was nothing in Welsh Country magazine but the reason why is that we can only support food festivals and markets that are supporting us with advertising. It’s basic economics and how we survive. Plus it’s only fair on those that are working with us. They get extra editorial in Welsh Country and we also put it up on too.
    I didn’t get a press release about this festival and if I had it would only have helped me, as again I couldn’t publish it even on our website as they are not working with us. In the past I always published a list of Wag food festivals every year and then a few each issue, but Wag aren’t working with us so I can’t do that either now. It’s a huge pity that festivals are losing out on publicity, but we have a vat number not a charity number. Sorry!!!

  3. In the know

    July 13, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    As a Trader, I had a brilliant time and found the atmosphere to be friendly and cheerful. Most festivals have been down about 15% this year, but I was slightly up on last year. I can agree with the crowds, but unless they move some of the houses, I cannot see a way round this. This festival is well organised, easy to unload, and we are always given fire extinguishers which is very unusual.
    It does beg the question as to how this festival can afford to have all the top chefs, good stalls and be free for visitors, when others have tiny stalls and few attractions and cost to enter.
    I passed the fork2fork tiny stand a few times, and there was never anyone manning it. Maybe they just put it up and went home!

  4. local

    July 15, 2011 at 11:06 am

    this is my local event and I like it but do agree with comments about huge numbers and not being able to get to the stands. I’d my elderly father with me and really wanted tables and chairs that he could have sat at and had a rest an eaten some of that super food. What great chefs there and loved that so many of them are still actually working in Wales. We have so much talent.
    You’ll get get this event moved away from the harbour, it’s the Harbourmaster show, we all know that, but I think using the car park and putting all hot food there with tables, chairs and QUIET music, sea shanties etc would have been brilliant. You could run a park and ride using council car park to to relieve parking.
    Great evnet but could do better so don’t rest on your laurels and get more banners about. Involve the local shps too some were not even open.