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.




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  1. Disappointed Trader

    November 1, 2011 at 12:31 am

    I can only agree with Kath’s glowing comments about the show. Very well organised, great to have help witth unloading/packing before and after the show. Which other show organisez the local army and air cadets to help out? With their help unloading took one-third of the time it usually took (as did packing up). Very good – no, brilliant attendance, and people actually spent money and didnt just graze on your products without spending anything. This was (I think) my fourth year and definately the best. When the tent was slightly flooded on sunday morning, the air cadets were there again, moping up the flood, wiping the drips off the tent roof so you and the public didnt get wet. Many a show can learn a lot from Cowbridge’s approach. Well done Polly (organiser) – can i come back next year?? And it was nice to see Kath n Ian 🙂

  2. subscriber

    November 1, 2011 at 9:17 am

    I was reminded about Cowbridge festival through reading welsh country mag. It’s usually a brill one but so many festivals I have managed to get to this year have not been that good, so unsure whether to go.
    Concerned too about £4.00 entry, but it was as good as ever and I think – like kath – now one of my favourite festivals. I actually bumped into Kath, I recognised her from the mag, but she was wearing a badge too. Good to have a chat and find out where she’s going next!
    People were friendly and everything was quite easy to find.
    congratulations to Cowbridge and thanks to Kath and welsh country mag for giving me a Cowbridge reminder!!!

  3. cowbridge local

    November 4, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Great festival, great report too. I’m proud of the job everyone did and although not pleased to pay £4 to go in I’d still support my town
    A good selection of producers but too many that weren’t Welsh, didn’t like that I’d much prefer Welsh ones please

  4. local

    November 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    I have just found this site and what a breath of fresh air it is. Sound comments and lots of interest there too. Cowbridge was great event as always.