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Archive for October, 2011

Cowbridge Demonstrates How To Run A Fabulous Food Festival

31 Oct

Should I judge the success of a food festival by the fact that three cash points had run out of money on Sunday morning or should I just listen to happy feedback from all of our Best Of Welsh & Border producers? Well either way, it was a pleasure to attend Cowbridge. I really do congratulate the committee and the many volunteers that were involved in the festival for putting on such a good event and giving a huge boost to what has been a very difficult food festival trading season. 

I was pleased to note signs going in and the Park & Ride service worked well, which is always a much needed service as parking is not always easy in Cowbridge- even on a Sunday! I saw a few shops on the High Street that had posters in their windows but I would have loved to have seen more. Having said that, I was pleased to see that so many shops had opened on the Sunday to which made for a really pleasurable day.

Entrance fees has been an issue at some events this year but Cowbridge were charging £4.00 for a day ticket with under 12’s free and I didn’t hear anyone moaning about the cost. There was a comprehensive free festival guide and plenty of directional boards and event maps around the town.

Another of my dislikes is that many festivals don’t provide any tables and chairs for visitors to eat, drink and chat in comfort. But Cowbridge had managed to do this and situated it alongside the ‘Food-To-Go’ marquee – and area with one of the best selections of hot food that I think I’ve seen this year. This was of course a very popular area and when I was there, tucking into my delicious Samosa co curry, we even had a jazz band playing and although they were enthusiastically loud – they were also very good! We were blessed with the weather on Sunday, but this area obviously couldn’t have worked if the rain had come in.

Talking to our Best Of Welsh & Borders, when they did have time to chat, it was fabulous to hear what a busy day Saturday had been for them. Actually I didn’t talk to anyone who didn’t have a good Saturday’s trade – brilliant! Some producers takings were on a par with last year, and with the economic downturn not many festivals have achieved this, whilst others were in excess of last year’s figures.

Cowbridge very efficiently recognised True Taste winners and displayed certificates above the winner’s stands – so well done guys for doing that too! It was also the first time that the latest True Taste magazine was available to producers and visitors.

I also popped down to check out the cookery demo area. With plenty of signage it was easy to find and I was again pleased that Cowbridge had a showcase board outside saying which chefs were cooking when.

I didn’t stay long enough to find out if the chefs had been instructed to use food from the festival, but I hope that was the case.

 I was impressed too to see one clothes shop really getting behind the food festival with a 10% discount for the duration of the festival.

One of the organisers said a Wag food official was there on Saturday but when I spoke to our producers, no-one had seen or spoken to anyone from Wag……………………….. So I can only assume their visit was a ‘box ticking’ exercise and they felt no need to talk to producers to get their feedback – good job I did then isn’t it? I do get cross when Wag appears to forget that the main objective of putting food festivals on is to promote our artisan producers – so why not talk to them?

I’d love Cowbridge to be able to grow bigger as I know many producers are frustrated that they cannot get a stand there, but there simply isn’t any more space that they can use, so that is it. Cowbridge received Wag funding of £9,990.00 and in my view they are one of the few festivals this year that I have attended that actually warrant more. With budget cuts continuing I dread to think what Wag will do their food festival budget next year.

 

 

 
 

Smallholder Funding – Or Lack Of It

28 Oct

Regular followers of welshfoodbites might recall the furore when this year’s festival funding was allocated and the shock horror when we learnt that the Smallholder Show would no longer be funded as it didn’t fulfil Wag criteria that food must be the core activity.   

To quickly update you on the background Wag used to run the Food Hall and then asked Steve Shearman – Farmer’s Markets In Wales to run it on their behalf – which he did very successfully. But at this year’s food festival organisers meeting, which Mr Shearman was again invited to, that was the message he was given. Despite the fact that he’d already taken bookings, and after talking to some of the stand holders, he did the honourable thing and went ahead this year, although stand fees had a sizeable increased.

That you might think would be the end of another sad saga, but I decided to raise and Freedom Of Information Act, FOI question about how much money Wag put into Royal Welsh Show. These were the figures sent through:

Lease Costs for the Food Hall – all costs include vat      

2009 £70,645.64 Food Hall Hire for RWS & Winter Fair

2010 £65,403.32 RWS

2010 £19,975.00 Winter Fair

Event Build & Management Costs all costs  include vat

2009 RWS               £155,023.30

2009 Winter Fair £61,355.38

20101 RWS            £131,968.22

2010 Winter Fair £56,078.64

 

What I did find out and rather surprised me was that Smallholder was funded, not from the food festival budget but from ‘Promoting Welsh Food’ – Budget Expenditure Line. I have no idea what this budget is supposed to be for so I asked further questions:

  1. What was the total sum in this budget for 2008/9 2009/10 and 2010/11?
  2. Who received this funding in those three years and how much was given?
  3. How is this funding allocated?  

I thought these were reasonable questions and simple to answer, but dear readers, I was wrong. The answer I received from Wag is as follows:

‘I believe that your request is likely to be very time consuming to deal with. If I estimate that it will cost more than the appropriate established in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 to consider your request, the regulations allow me to refuse to deal with it. The appropriate limit specified for central government is £600.00.  When calculating whether or not your requests exceeds the appropriate time limit, I am allowed to consider the time it is likely to take to establish if we hold the information, locate the information, retrieve the information and extract it. If these tasks are estimated to take more than 24 hours of working time, the limit will have been exceeded’.

As you might guess, I have no wish to pay £600.00 for information to what I believe are simple questions. But my fury is that money has been given out, but this Wag official would have to establish if Wag hold this information. Does anyone know why Wag shouldn’t have this financial information readily available? I’m hardly asking them to dig for records from the dim and distant past, am I?

 

My other query is why was Wag festival criteria applied to the Smallholder, when their funding was not coming out of the Food Festival Budget? Is that same criteria also applied somewhere in the ‘Promoting Welsh Food’ – Budget Expenditure Line rules? Is this how Wag can justify not funding the Smallholder this year?

 

I would sum this up as a can of worms which is proving very difficult and time-consuming to get the facts about…………….

 
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Food Bites Co-Incidence?

24 Oct

I thought I’d point out a co-incidence between welshfoodbites and Food Bytes.

I created welshfoodbites in July 2010 as a means of communicating to our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers and a way of highlighting the problems and issues I see and you raise with me about Welsh food.

Food Bytes is a Wag newsletter, issued quarterly and only began in April 2011.

I wonder who decided to call it food bytes and why………………………………………?

 
 

Wales The True Taste Food & Drink Award Winners 2011-12

21 Oct

 Congratulations to all the winners at last night’s celebration held in Llandudno and I hope you all enjoyed the evening. I am also delighted at the number of our Best Of  Welsh & Borders producers, all the team at Welsh Country magazine are thrilled to bits for you!!!!

Follows is the list of winners:   

LAMB

GOLD

Cig Mynydd Cymru

Rack of Welsh Lamb

SILVER

Graig Farm Organics

Organic Sirloin of Lamb

BRONZE

Welsh Venison Centre

Rack of Welsh Lamb

BEEF

GOLD

Cwmcerrig Farm Shop and Grill

Sirloin Steak

SILVER

Castell Howell Foods Ltd

Bone In 711g Welsh Beef Rib Eye Steak

BRONZE

Ifor’s Welsh Wagyu

Quick Fry Steak (Rump Tail)

PORK

GOLD

Dawn Meats (UK) Ltd

Pork Belly Joint with Smoky Barbecue Glaze

SILVER

Welsh Venison Centre

Welsh Belly of Pork

BRONZE

Rob Rattray Butchers

Sweet Cured Bacon

 POULTRY & GAME

 GOLD

Hooton’s Homegrown

Free Range Chicken Breast

SILVER

BethesdaFarm and Coffee Shop

Garlic and Smoked Bacon

Chicken Supreme

BRONZE

Blas ar Fwyd Cyf

Chicken and Welsh Ale Soup

OTHER ADDED VALUE MEAT PRODUCTS

GOLD

Edwards of Conwy

Pork, Black Pudding and Egg Pie

SILVER

Trealy Farm Charcuterie

Beech-Smoked Air-Dried Ham

BRONZE

Cnwd

Pork and Pistachio Terrine

BURGERS & SAUSAGES

GOLD

Gorno’s Speciality Foods Ltd

Spicy Chorizo Sausage

SILVER

Saloni

Saloni Chorizo

BRONZE

Castell Howell Foods Ltd

Gourmet Welsh Pork with Honey and Mustard Burger

MILK, YOGURT, BUTTER & CREAM – SMALL PRODUCER

GOLD

Sanclêr Organic

Melys Strained Yogurt withSevilleOranges

SILVER

Ty Tanglwyst Dairy

Fresh Whole Milk

BRONZE

Derimon Smokery Ltd

Welsh Oak Smoked Welsh Butter

CHEESE – SMALL PRODUCER

GOLD

Holden Farm Dairy

Hafod Cheese

SILVER

Trethowan’s Dairy Limited

Gorwydd Caerphilly

BRONZE

Y Cwt Caws

Peli Pabo Garlic and Herb

ICE CREAM – SMALL PRODUCER

GOLD

Baravelli’s

Raspberry Ripple Dairy Ice Cream

SILVER

Hufenfa’r Castell

Riwbob Ice Cream

BRONZE

The Patchwork Traditional Food Company

Vanilla Pod Ice Cream withAngleseySeaSalted Caramel Ripple

MILK, YOGURT, BUTTER & CREAM – LARGE PRODUCER

GOLD

South CaernarfonCreameries

Dragon Welsh Salted Butter

SILVER

Proper Welsh Milk Company

Proper Welsh Milk

BRONZE

South CaernarfonCreameries

Dragon Whole Milk

CHEESE – LARGE PRODUCER

GOLD

Milk Link, Llandyrnog Creamery

Cadog Mature Welsh Cheddar

SILVER

First Milk

Pembrokeshire Mature

BRONZE

Carmarthenshire Cheese Company Ltd

ICE CREAM – LARGE PRODUCER

GOLD

Subzero

Luxury Vanilla Dairy Ice Cream

SILVER

Forte’s Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream

BRONZE

Forte’s Ice Cream

Clotted Cream with Peach & Raspberry

CAKES

GOLD

choc-o-art

Marbled ChocolateOrangeTemptation

SILVER

Harvies Ltd

Raspberry and Almond Frangipane

BRONZE

The Village Bakery (Coedpoeth) Ltd

M&S Welsh Cakes

CONFECTIONERY

GOLD

Uncle Peter’s Fudge Company

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Fudge

SILVER

Cathryn Cariad Chocolates

Salted Caramels

BRONZE

Baravelli’s

Vanilla Salted Caramel

OTHER BAKED GOODS

GOLD

Cradocs Savoury Biscuits

Perl Las Savoury Biscuits

SILVER

Cradocs Savoury Biscuits

Leek and Caerphilly Savoury Biscuits

BRONZE

La Crème Patisserie Ltd

Frangipane Mince Pies

NON-ALCOHOLIC DRINKS

GOLD

Welsh Farmhouse Apple Juice

Egremont Russet

SILVER

Brecon Mineral Water

Brecon Carreg Welsh Natural Mineral Water – Still

BRONZE

Brecon Mineral Water

Brecon Carreg Welsh Natural Mineral Water – Sparkling

BEER, CIDER & PERRY (UNDER 10% ABV)

GOLD

The Celt Experience Ltd

Celt-Golden

SILVER

Monty’s Brewery

Sunshine

BRONZE

Blaengawney Cider

Hallets Real Cider

WINE, SPIRITS & OTHER ALCOHOL (OVER 10% ABV)

GOLD

Celtic Spirit Co

Danzy Jones

SILVER

Condessa Welsh Liqueurs

Sloe Gin

BRONZE

Da Mhile Distillery

Da Mhile Orange Liquer

FRESH FISH & SHELLFISH

GOLD

Welsh Seafoods Ltd

Brill

SILVER

South &West WalesFishing

Communities Ltd

Welsh Wild Line Caught Sea Bass

BRONZE

Gill’s Plaice

Cardigan BaySilver Mullet

ADDED VALUE FISH & SHELLFISH

GOLD

Aberdaron Seafood Ltd

Dressed Crab

SILVER

Llandudno Smokery

Kiln Roasted Oak Smoked Salmon

BRONZE

Black Mountains Smokery Ltd

Traditional Smoked Salmon

FRUIT

GOLD

Stubbins Marketing

Baby Plum Tomatoes

SILVER

Primrose Organic Centre

Tayberries

BRONZE

Primrose Organic Centre

Raspberries

VEGETABLES

GOLD

Puffin Produce Ltd

Rudolph Potato

SILVER

Llwynhelyg Farm Shop

Folia Fragrantia

BRONZE

Hooton’s Homegrown

Asparagus

CONDIMENTS, SAUCES & CHUTNEY

GOLD

The Anglesey Sea Salt Company

Halen Môn smoked over

Welsh Oak

SILVER

Sarah Cooks Your Homemade Pickles and Preserves

Mediterranean Chutney

BRONZE

Goetre Farm Preserves

Pineapple, Red Pepper and Roasted Cumin Chutney

JAMS, MARMALADE & HONEY

GOLD

Baravelli’s

Lemon Marmalade with Brecon Welsh Gin

SILVER

Tropical Forest Products Limited

Welsh Chunk Comb Honey

BRONZE

Bryn Seiriol Preserves

Lemon Curd

OTHER SPECIALITY FOODS

GOLD

Baravelli’s

Mince Pies

SILVER

PennsylvaniaFarm Free-Range Eggs

Free-Range Duck Eggs

BRONZE

TheMushroomGarden

Antipasto Shiitake Mushroom

HEALTHY OPTIONS

GOLD

Welsh Venison Centre

Venison Haunch Steak

SILVER

Siwgr a Sbeis Cyf

Bara Brith

BRONZE

Sanclêr Organic

Cottage Cheese with Garlic and Chives

SPECIAL DIETARY OPTIONS

GOLD

Homemade Country Preserves

No Added Sugar Raspberry Preserve

SILVER

Homemade Country Preserves

No Added Sugar Damson Preserve

BRONZE

CocoBean

Classic Gluten Free Brownie

ORGANIC

GOLD

The Anglesey Sea Salt Company

Halen Môn with Organic Celery Seeds

SILVER

The Anglesey Sea Salt Company

Halen Môn with Organic Spices

BRONZE

Holden Farm Dairy

Hafod Cheese

WALES THE TRUE TASTE PRODUCT OF THE YEAR

Baravelli’s

Lemon Marmalade with Brecon Welsh Gin

WELSH EXPORT ACHIEVEMENT

GOLD

Village Bakery Nutrition Ltd

SILVER

Capestone Organic Poultry Ltd

BRONZE

Randall Parker Foods

RETAILER OF THE YEAR DIRECT SALES

GOLD

Llwynhelyg Farm Shop

SILVER

Cwmcerrig Farm Shop and Grill

BRONZE

Hawarden Estate Farm Shop

ONLINE RETAILER

GOLD

Douglas Willis Ltd

SILVER

Pembrokeshire Produce Direct

BRONZE

Gower Cottage Brownies

DELI/SPECIALITY STORE

GOLD

Ultracomida Ltd

SILVER

Leonardo’s Delicatessen Ltd

BRONZE

Bradleys Deli

BUTCHERS

GOLD

Edwards of Conwy

SILVER

Douglas Willis Ltd

BRONZE

T.J. Roberts & Son

FISHMONGER

GOLD

Claws Shellfish

SILVER

Gill’s Plaice

BRONZE

Pysgod Llŷn Seafoods & Delicatessen

LOCAL SOURCING INITIATIVE

GOLD

Llwynhelyg Farm Shop

SILVER

Hawarden Estate Farm Shop

BRONZE

The Village Bakery

EATING OUT IN WALES – RESTAURANTS (NO ROOMS)

GOLD

Cwtch

Rachael Copley (was Knott)

SILVER

Y Ffarmers

BRONZE

number eighteen

RESTAURANTS/HOTELS (WITH ROOMS)

GOLD

The Grove

SILVER

Llansantffraed Court

BRONZE

Tyddyn Llan Restaurant with Rooms

CAFES & TEA-ROOMS

GOLD

The Award Winning Old Stables Tea Rooms

SILVER

Caffi Florence

BRONZE

The Hive

CONTRIBUTION TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

GOLD

Primrose Organic Centre

SILVER

Lloyds of Penlanlas

BRONZE

Cwmcerrig Farm Shop and Grill

TRUE TASTE CHAMPION

 Conrad Davies

Eurospar

 
 

Brecon Food Festival – Delayed Feedback

17 Oct

Held on Saturday 1st October in the market hall in the centre of Brecon, this is one I didn’t attend as I went to Bridgend and one I didn’t get much positive producer feedback from. But on Saturday, I had a meeting in Brecon and called into one of my regular coffee shops in the midst of the town.

Chatting with the owner, I was disappointed and angry to learn that this coffee shop knew nothing about the food festival taking place about 5 minutes walk from their premises until the morning itself!

What a farce. I am fed-up of repeating myself on lack of PR & Marketing of many food festivals, and no doubt you are bored of my reports too now, but if organisers cannot manage to inform their local shops and supply decent sized posters and flyers, to plaster the town with, then why are they bothering at all?

This particular coffee shop hadn’t geared up for any extra trade. They’d not produced extra stock and more importantly – not brought in any extra staff. It’s back to my regular grumble, communicate, join up the writing, make everyone aware of what’s happening and encourage the locals to support this event and also bring in the visitors too. 

After this year’s festivals, I hope Wag engage brain and have a serious re-think, not only about how they allocate their funding, should there be any, but how this money is spent. Are celebrity chefs really worth bringing in? If Wag allow this situation to continue yet again in 2012, then it’s up to the food producers to vote with their feet and raise their voices to get some basic improvements made.

 
 

Government’s Advertising Spend

17 Oct

I’m sure you’ll all understand why the Government’s advertising spend is a topic close to my heart, or more accurately, close to my business bank account! So I thought it would be interesting to find out, through the Freedom of Information Act, the Government’s advertising spend during 2009 and 2010, relating to the Trinity Mirror Group, Northcliffe, Tindall Newspapers Ltd and Newquest titles.

The information was as follows:

2009-10                                                                         2010-11

Trinity Mirror Group                                     1,217,233                                                                      630,161

Northcliffe                                                                96,551                                                                      188,630

Tindle Newspapers Ltd                                    136,593                                                                      143,636

Newsquest                                                             231,399                                                                      151,493

These figures relate to all paid advertising by the Government including recruitment, public notices, transport notices, and information campaigns.

In case you are not sure which group publishes the various papers here they are:

Trinity Mirror Group, Western Mail, Daily Post,

North Wales Newspaper Group Northcliffe, Swansea Evening Post, Carmarthen Journal

Tindall Newspapers Ltd, Brecon and Radnor, Cambrian News, Abergavenny Chronicle

Newquest, Western Telegraph, South Wales Argus

 
 

True Taste Awards 2011

14 Oct

I received another press release about True Taste last week with a message saying: Any members of the media who would like to cover  Wales’ The True Taste Food & Drink Awards ceremony, contact a person in Wag. I’m not sure if this is meant to be classed as this years’ bulk press invitation, or if it’s just Wag’s suggestion that we report on it for them …………………

I asked Wag if they could send the results through to me, embargoed, so we could get them on our website pronto. But for the first time ever, I had to sign a confidential disclosure agreement that I wouldn’t release this information any earlier than their embargoed time. Yesterday I received a press release from the Welsh Government Newsdesk, embargoed, but nothing for me to sign, trusted as a journalist to do my job – yippee!

The excitement and anticipation is building as to who will win what and I’m unhappy that I, as media, not only can’t be trusted with confidential information, but that I would want spoil the thrill of the moment when the gold winner is announced. I have never been 100% behind the way Wag have devised the True Taste Awards and much prefer the Great Taste Awards, who judge producers to win 3, 2, and 1 stars. Three stars means. ‘wow you must taste this product’ two stars means ‘ faultless’ and one star means ‘close to perfect.’ But there is no way I would mar this special moment for any producer and I trust my journalistic colleagues will act as professionals and obey press release that are embargoed.   

The True Taste results will be on welshcountry.co.uk and also welshfoodbites.co.uk as soon as we are allowed to release them.   

For those of you that are heading to Llandudno next Thursday, have a wonderful night, we’ll be thinking about you and the Welsh Country team want to wish our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers going forward for True Taste Awards, the very best of luck. I have my fingers crossed, well not literally or I couldn’t use my keyboard, that you all win gold, but if not, it’s still a great achievement and we know how hard you have work, particularly these last few years!!

 
 

Neath Food & Drink Festival

10 Oct

I visited on Saturday but it’s a good job I went last year, because once again I couldn’t see any signage until I had got to the festival itself. I did see a banner at a roundabout when I headed homewards a different way, but that seemed to be it.

The stands were sited down a few streets in the centre of town and as always I was delighted to see so many of our Best Of Welsh & Border producers there. Mixed reports at Friday’s trade but there were quite a few people there when I arrived around 11.00.

This event is classed by Wag, as is Bridgend, as a ‘Community Event’ and I’m guessing Bay Radio and SW Evening Post, both sponsors covered the advertising. So there were numerous community stands, at this ‘community event’ with some of them selling food too. Now I’m not sure if the ‘community stands’ had to pay for their space, I did ask one Neath employee, but she didn’t know. I’m just wondering if these stands don’t pay, how fair this is on the food traders who did have to pay for their stands. But maybe they do pay just the same rate.  In these financially stretched times, if these stands have lower overheads, and then they can afford to charge less, which is unfair competition for the producers and with everyone nowadays much more savvy and keen to compare prices, cheaper prices will often win. I noticed Neath Port Talbot College, who had built an attractive stand doing bread, pies and cakes and they seemed to be doing good trade. Of course I realise what great experience it is for the students, but my loyalty has to be to our food producers!

I did remember that the cookery demos took place last year in St David’s Church which was quite an unusual venue for this type of event – but it did work. I was disappointed not to see a blackboard or flip chart giving the times and names of chefs that were cooking and what their dishes were going to be. I did find this on the Neath festival website but having it in the church would have been a huge help. I was pleased to see that recipes were available for download from the website, but not sure that some of the more elderly people watching would necessarily have access to the web. However that was better than nothing and I would have loved to see recipes available for people to take away with them.

I spoke to a delightful Neath Communities First,  lady in the church, massive apologies for not taking her name, but she  was very helpful answering many of my questions and hopefully we’ll talk again soon. She gave me a super leaflet about the festival – which would have been more useful at the start of my day rather than when I was about to finish. She assured me that one of the team had gone around the producers getting produce for the cookery demos, which is something I want to see more of. However on Neath festival website a lemon sole dish was being cooked and I couldn’t see any fish stall at the festival, maybe I missed it, but at least Neath did try to get producer involvement. I wandered around some of the stands in the church, very impressed with a young man selling eggs, for someone so young he was very switched on, noticed my badge and offered me some eggs. I didn’t accept of course, but what a marketing head on one so young!!! I was disappointed to find the stand doing teas and coffees as they looked to be selling shop bought cakes and pies, not at all the message that should be going out, especially when there were a number of top cakes makers there. There was another stand selling home-made large jars, I think they were 454gm of jams and chutney, price just £2.00. I don’t know any professional trader that can make a living, producing, selling and make a profit at that price. I was told so many times this was a ‘community event’ and that it has huge merits for the community, but where do the professional traders fit in the community priority list? With funding of £9,999, and this comes out of the food festival budget, I still have to stand up for the producers and say they must come first.

 
 

Bridgend Feastival

03 Oct

Yes that’s what it was called, a feastival rather than a festival.

Made a late decision to attend on Friday afternoon and struggled to get list of stand holders from website but Ian rang Bridgend Council and spoke to a helpful guy called John who efficiently sent through a list so we could plan our Saturday at Bridgend. Bridgend are at the top of my very short ‘helpful council’  list alongside Caerphilly.    

It’s been a long time since I visited Bridgend and after leaving the M4,  travelled along A48, my eyes peeled for signs promoting the event. Well yet again I failed to find signs and it was just as well I knew it was taking place in the town centre, because at least I could find my way there. If you’re a regular reader of welshfoodbites you’ll be as fed-up as I am about my complaining about the same things: lack of signage, lack of press releases and often poor websites. This event received £9,950.00 from Wag and once again as a journalist, I haven’t received a single press release about this event. But why does this happen time and time again and after all that money was spent on a report by Miller Research? Maybe the question that needs an urgent and honest answer is why does Wag allow this situation to continue? If Wag’s answer, should they be bothered to address this matter, is that we are giving food festivals money and they can do whatever they wish with it – then that is simply not acceptable. Unless Wag you are considerate and honest enough to tell our producers that basically they take pot luck as to whether festival organisers can be bothered to promote and market their event. Perhaps Bridgend’s attitude is this food feastival is just to promote the town and we’re not interested in attracting visitors from outside Bridgend. Then that’s fair enough if they make producers aware of this attitude but my concern is why does Wag fund it to the tune of nearly £10k? Shouldn’t the council be prepared to pay for more of it themselves?

Not being familiar with Bridgend, I found it difficult to work out where everyone was. There was a stand at one end with literature so I picked up a leaflet but couldn’t take a map with me as it was pinned to the table. Luckily more maps must have arrived later as I did see people studying them. Local gardener and a BBC Radio 2 favourite, Terry Walton was in attendance, giving talks and advice about gardens and allotments. The layout formed a square in the town, so it was quite easy to follow and there were banners along those streets and on lamp posts. There was street entertainment and a cookery demo area with blackboard details of which chef was working and the dish they were cooking. So that was good to see.

The Farmers’ Market area was bustling and it was good to see many of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, (BOW) there. Lovely to a Bridgend Farmers Market banner saying 10 years of trading 1999 -2009 hope they keep up the good work for another ten years! The event was blessed with beautiful weather and I’m sure Cowpots ice-cream did good trade with their super range along with some delicious cheese too!          

As often happens at festivals, there was now area with tables and chairs for visitors to seat down and eat their purchases. Far too many people had to resort to eating and walking in the street, or just leaning against a wall to eat. This is hardly satisfactory for the young, let alone the elderly, infirm or those with children.  I’m sorry but that’s really not good enough, it’s important that this is ignored far too often. The reason people are there is to buy produce and we should be encouraging them to eat it some produce there before buying more to take home. The cafes took advantage of this oversight but having lots of tables and chairs out but this doesn’t not help our producers sell more produce does it?  There was a large area outside Nat. West bank; I think that was Adare Street, which would have been perfect for a seating area and other spots which would have also worked.

Chatting to some of our BOW producers they were having a reasonable event, not brilliant, but not too bad – thank goodness the weather was on their side.  

 

I’m just disappointed that Wag allows the same old problems/issues to continue instead of pushing their funded events to improve. I have no idea whether any Wag person visited but I’d love to see their overview of this event – in fact all events that have been funded this year.