Cardigan ‘Local’ Food Festival

15 Aug

I’ve had a couple of calls in about Cardigan which ran on 6th August both muttering about having stands there from England. Apparently there were at least three of them, which brought one producer to ask me: “when is local food local?” 

Having English producers at Welsh food festivals has long been an issue, not just with me but with lots of producers too. When I’ve queried this, I’m told that as Wag funding is European, festivals cannot be restricted to Welsh producers only. You’ll see this very clearly if you attend the larger events such as Abergavenny and Cardiff. If this is the case my concerns are also with visitors. If they are foodies and are on holiday in Wales and they go to what they perceive as a Welsh Food Festival, I think they would expect to see just Welsh producers there, wouldn’t you? Actually I wonder if this was a question asked in last year’s food survey – have you travelled here looking for Welsh food or doesn’t it matter to you?

I’m not sure how many of our Welsh producers can afford the time and money to attend English food festivals, or for that matter if Westminster funds the English festivals as Wales does. Maybe that is a matter that needs looking at further. I do understand though that at a fairly small festival like Cardigan, producers keen to try and earn a living, that travelling from England appears to make this festival worthwhile.

At the Royal Welsh Show in July a Wag official told me that many food producers were doing well……………………….and although I suggested that a trip around the food hall might give a different view, I’m sure that my idea wasn’t taken up! From my chats with producers that are running various sizes of businesses, life on the circuit, whether it is festivals or farmers’ markets they are attending, trade is the toughest it has been for many, many years with many producers finding these avenues to market are no longer profitable. I’m not sure how you get festival, market organisers and Wag to take on board the difficult trading climate and re-look at how these markets are actually working. We need to find ways to improve these markets, ways to get some organisers to up their game and to give the producers the boost they desperately need. Improved promotion and marketing must be near the top of this ‘action list’.   

Having said that, I’m fed-up of attending both festivals and markets and talking to some ‘new’ producers that haven’t business cards or literature, no banners on their stand and seem to spend hours sat down, arms folded and looking totally bored!!!! I know it isn’t just me that wants to know more about new producers on the scene, but if I’d been from a major food chain or just a potential customer wanting mail order, I would not have been impressed by some of them.           

Sorry not to have visited Cardigan, but I was booked elsewhere. But it was very much a non-Welsh food weekend for me for a change and Katherine Jenkins was brilliant!!!  


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