The setting for this festival in the University grounds is excellent. You cannot miss the history of this group of magnificent buildings and the huge expanse of lawned areas gives the organisers a good head start on other festivals. However, at the risk of sounding like a stuck record in our food festival season, I shall repeat again where were the banners, where was the signage, I only saw one sign on my drive in and two signs when I’d got to the entrance!!! Nothing in the town, no window displays – it was just the same as it has been for years. Why I continue to beat this publicity drum, I’m seriously beginning to wonder, is anyone listening?
This is yet another festival supported by Wag this year to the tune of just over £9,500, that has failed to send me a press release and you have to ask why, when I’m working in the media and Welsh Country magazine is the flagship food magazine for Wales. So, with no press release, I try the web and get onto the Lampeter town website and print off the list of food producers attending. So was that a success? No. When I got there and Ian and I tried to work off our list, it could hardly have been called accurate. So before I hear the plaintive cries, yet again, that we are all volunteers, I accept, understand and appreciate that, but what I cannot and will not accept is the volunteer excuse when our food traders are attending events like these to make their living. They’re not attending for their pocket-money, they are there to make their living – pay their mortgages and feed their kids. I never volunteered for anything unless I was prepared to put a lot of work in – that’s how it goes. If you haven’t enough volunteers – use your local paper to find more, if volunteers aren’t any good- say goodbye to them and if you still need help ask Wag.
In case you think I’m just highlighting negatives at this festival, that’s not strictly true, my sole objective is to help our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, (BOW). There’s nothing worse for Ian and I to attend a festival or market, talk to our BOW and get nothing but constant tales of gloom because organisers are not working with them or for them. As for Lampeter, Welsh Country magazine has offered to help them for a number of years, but our offers have not been taken up. Of course that’s their choice, they might feel we can’t help, they might not even want our help, but they, like many other festivals still need guidance on how to get the basics right. Thank goodness Preseli Coffee where there to give me my mocha fixes during the day.
There were free bi-lingual catalogues on a table, but no-one giving them out, which didn’t make sense to me. Let’s face it, if they’ve been printed they might as well be given out they’re no use the following day are they? I watched a little of a cookery demo whilst tucking into a superb pasty from Little Welsh Deli washed down by delicious cider and perry from Ralph’s Cider – a great Welsh lunch. Back to beating my promotional drum again as I watched Dafydd Watkin from The Talbot Hotel Tregaron cook a super lobster dish. In the programme it stated the demo area was using the best local produce – great theme, but surely all chefs should use produce that is at the event. There wasn’t even a fish stall there. Isn’t one of the chef’s aims to stimulate interest in their dish so that visitors can then be inspired to cook it at home? So isn’t is better to use produce from the event, encourage visitors to buy the main ingredient and take it home? One of the chef’s team said I could use prawns instead of lobster, but then had to explain why I wanted the chefs to support the producers. She countered by saying that they didn’t know who was going to be in attendance, which I find hard to believe, but at the end of the day it’s down to lack of communication once again. Even I could have given her some suggestions as to which producers would be there and I’m sure the organisers could have helped there too. The fact is, it wasn’t a directive for the chef when they were booked to attend, so does the blame lie with the organisers or with Wag? I’m not sure anyone will actually accept the blame, which isn’t good enough but is fairly standard. BSE I call it – Blame Some Else. Both the organisers and Wag should be putting producers first!!!!!!!!!!!
I left about 4.00 and was impressed by the number of people there but disappointed not to see a huge amount of bags being taken home. I hope that people had eaten plenty whilst they were there as there was lots of covered seating which was brilliant, entertainment for the kids and local musicians too. The music as often happens didn’t have a volume control and it made life difficult for traders to talk to customers. Another instance of organisers not getting the message – it’s not a town fete these traders are there to sell and to do that they have to be heard, not deafened by some very good music.