Archive for February, 2012

Water Lot Of Fun In The Countryside

29 Feb

Now in its eighth year, The Really Wild Festival is renowned for its friendly atmosphere, superb food and drink, its wacky entertainment and hands-on madness for every member of the family. But this year, St Davids, Britain’s smallest city, goes wet as well as wild when it stages its own water-themed games to mark the Olympics. The opening day of the two-day festival, on July 27th, coincides with the opening ceremony of the Olympics and so the festival will be splashing out with the Really Wild Eaulimpic Games! Teams will be challenged to take part in a crazy contest to collect as much water as possible to win the coveted Geauld medal. But if you’d like to stay dryand still have fun, then why not try your hand at ‘Bowling with Veg’ and ‘Wellie-Wanging’, or cheer on the ‘Racing Pigs & Ferrets’?

It’s all about the festival’s theme of championing rural life, said festival founder Julia Horton-Powdrill. “It’s about what goes into the countryside, what comes out of it, and how we can benefit from what nature offers us,” she said.

I know it’s not professional to have favourites, but never mind, the fact is that The Really Wild Festival IS one of my favourites. The organisers took a brave and bold move last year moving their date from its usual September to July. Thankfully that move really paid off as they attracted many more holidaymakers, as well as a sunny weekend. Another reason that this is a favourite for me, is that although it is still just February, I’ve already had my first press release from them. So I know just what’s happening at their festival. The bonus for the organisers is that now, all our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers have their latest information too!! 

More than 80 exhibitors and producers will be showcasing what Pembrokeshire and Wales does best, whether it’s serving up delicious tastes or offering a chance to try traditional rural crafts. If you haven’t booked your stand yet, what are you waiting for? Application forms and details can be obtained from or from Alison the Really Wild Coordinator

Chefs, including Anthony Evans and Fraser Christian, will be cooking up a storm with locally-foraged ingredients, and a new addition this year will be the Really Wild Welsh Bake-Off to challenge the more amateur culinary talents.

The event takes place at their normal site of the Festival Fields, Whitesands Road, St Davids between 10am – 5pm on Friday July 27th and Saturday 28th

To find out more, visit











‘Supplier To Buyer’ Regional Tourism Event

22 Feb

I have to say a huge thank-you to a number of Best Of Welsh & Border producers, (BOW), that told me about this event. Billed as a trade exhibition of Regional suppliers, especially for the hospitality and retail sector, it was held yesterday, the 21st February. I have no idea why I wasn’t told ‘officially’ that it was taking place, especially as I went last year – so my thanks for those BOW that kept me in the loop!

When I’d signed in I was given a bag of what I thought were just brochures, but on returning to work I found quite a good exhibition plan brochure. Maybe if it runs next year the plan layout could be given out separately. I also found in my bag a brochure for Welsh Rarebits, which was quite a surprise considering they hadn’t even got a stand at the event. I’m still wondering as to why this particular brochure was there and can only think Welsh Rarebits are best pals with either Wag or Pembrokeshire County Council, or maybe both.  But no point my puzzling as I cetainly know by now that we don’t have the luxury of trading on a level playing field here in Wales.       

I think there were roughly 90 stands of which about 40 were food, and many of them our BOW producers. It was a pleasure to catch up with so many of you and hear your latest news, along with a few of your worries. 

As always there was mixed raction on the business front. Some traders said they had some good interest, whilst others felt if much quieter than last year. I’m unaware if Pembrokeshire altered their marketing plans for this event this year, or if it was simply a sign of businesses struggling through the recession.

However I was delighted that ‘most’ stands were well supplied with literature, business cards, promotional offers and price lists. Some traders were smartly dressed in their company clothing, others were in business suites, but not many traders wore company name badges. In the afternoon, when there weren’t too many punters about, traders were mingling and badges would have been useful, not just for each other but also for the remaining visitors. 

The quality of Welsh food stands was excellent and I’d be very surprised if visitors were not impressed with the variety and selection and quality on offer. I was delighted to see Blas ar Fwyd Cyf in attendance, who are a company based in Llanrwst. The company initially started off as a deli, but have now grown so much they run a fleet of refrigerated vehicles supplying Welsh produce across Wales to shops, hotels, and restaurants. Their stand was superb and I spent ages on it, not realising how much their range has expanded and now includes it’s own range of award-winning goods.  It will certainly make my life easier when I get moans from anyone who is struggling to find Welsh products!!!   

I do hope that in the next few weeks the traders manage to turn their contacts into some orders.


Festival Funding Will Be Published w/c 19th March

13 Feb

I have today received assurance from the Welsh Government, WG, that the timing they have stated in their Press Release will be adhered to.

WG state: “Applications will be reviewed by a team consisting of representatives from the Welsh Government’s Food and Market Development Division and Visit Wales, with each application considered on individual merit and in light of available funding. Following consultation with the Food and Farming Panel the outcomes will be issued the week commencing March 19th.”

The posts on food festival has really rattled some of you, so to clarify, the applications for food festival funding close on 17th February. In the following four weeks Wag will follow their new consultation plan, discussing this with visitwales and then their committee. Wag will then inform us of their decision w/c 19th March.

I’m assuming I shall receive a further Press Release on the festivals that are being funded, which will then be posted on and also on welshfoodbites. If the amounts awarded to each festival are not included, I shall request this information through the Freedom Of Information Act. 

I do hope that helps …………………..


Cardiff International Food & Drink Festival

08 Feb

It’s been a busy foodie few days with phone and emails giving me lots of food for thought – sorry for a poor pun – but it’s only Wednesday!

One snippet of news from a Best Of  Welsh & Borders producer was that the Cardiff food team was hitting the phones drumming up support for their three day festival in July. Cardiff are charging £180 a metre for stands, but when most traders need 3 metres min, that makes stands £540 ex vat, unless I have failed again on my sums. Certainly not cheap, but interested as to whether you feel visitor numbers make this festival good value for money for three days trading.   

I think I can guarantee that Cardiff will not fail in their bid to drag more money out of Wag. In 2008/9 Wag gave them £30k, in 09/10 it rose to £35k, followed by a further increase in 10/11 to £37,500. Now as I understand Cardiff is one of Wag’s ‘Big 3’ with international status, funding I think is assured. Not sure how much time and money Cardiff City Council put into this event, but they also support it as well. I’m unsure if sponsors are difficult to achieve in our capital city, but if that’s the case,  then heaven help the mini and smaller festivals situated out in the sticks, realistically what hope have they of attracting sponsors?

Sorry no idea if payments are staged, as my producer did not proceed any further……………………….



Delay In Sending Out Festival Application Forms

06 Feb

A festival organiser rang in this morning, moaning to me that their food festival funding application forms were only received at the end of January, with the closing date for applications of February.  

Now the main moan was because these application forms were supposed to have been sent out last November and no-one knows why there has been a delay. My quick quip of ‘wag food’ – well, that didn’t even raise a chuckle. So I followed on by offering some wag names and contact numbers that I have, which might be able to clarify the delay.  But that wasn’t a good idea because, ‘I daren’t complain and bite the hand that is giving out the grants’.

I so fed-up of hearing this from people. I’d hardly call this a complaint, but a question. But apparently not much point in asking wag questions.

So it appears that I’m here to allow this organiser to let off steam – and to get on welshfoodbites – as long as I don’t mention the festival!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In part, I can understand this organiser, as I can understand the producers who don’t wish to jeopardise a grant by complaining to wag either. But nothing will change in this industry if wag ‘in their wisdom’ think everything they do is acceptable. I’ve been told by wag that there is a complaints procedure for anyone who is unhappy, but let’s go no further on that one shall we, as I’m still unhappy with how things are run in food.  

I explained to this organiser that wag had kindly told me last week that the application forms went out at the end of January with a closing date of 17th February. In the past wag have never let me know when these forms have gone out so I’ve no idea on the normal timescale of this. Bearing in mind the festival organisers meeting in Machynlleth was held November, did an organiser ask then when the forms would be sent out? If not, why not? But if so, what’s wrong with ringing and asking about the cause of the delay?

I haven’t further information on this as most of my news/views are from organisers or producers, rather than wag.

I think we are in a sad situation as producers and organisers seem rather fearful of wag food – which is far from ideal to build an industry and certainly not in these difficult trading times.

But what really concerns me, is that I have a full list of wag supported festivals as soon as possible as both my Best Of Welsh & Borders producers and my readers want this information – now rather than later.

So as soon as we have it we’ll publish it on our websites: welshcountry and welshfoodbites.


Latest News On Government Support For Welsh Food Festivals

01 Feb

I thought you might be interested to read this Welsh Government Press Release, which was received yesterday and I’ve  copied from as I’m sure it will be of interest not only to our Best Of  Welsh & Borders producers, but all local food lovers. 

Welsh food festivals are being invited to apply for grant funding from the Welsh Government.

 Each year food festivals in Wales contribute millions of pounds to the economy by attracting visitors from across Wales and beyond and provide an important platform for producers looking to increase sales in an ever more competitive marketplace.

Around 40-50 festivals receive support each year from the Food Festival Grant programme, which is funded by the Welsh Government. In 2010/11 some 49 festivals received grant support.

 Alun Davies, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries said, “Each year food festivals in Wales contribute millions of pounds to the economy and are a key element in promoting Wales’ burgeoning food culture and giving visitors a ‘sense of place’.

“Large or small, they have their own distinct character, but with one common thread – to bring to the public’s attention the fantastic array of food and drink produced in Wales.”

 The findings of a two-year evaluation of food festivals supported by the Welsh Government, and conducted by Miller Research, show they attracted approximately 650,000 consumers with an average spend per head by festival visitors of £20.

This equates to £7m in direct spend with an estimated additional spend in host communities of £42 million over two years and implies additional sales directly relating to festivals in the region of almost £50million over a two-year period.

Approximately 500 producers – many of them Wales the True Taste Food & Drink Award winners – attended the supported festivals in 2010/11, reporting an average of 32% of their annual sales made as a result of attending festivals.

Applications will be reviewed by a team consisting of representatives from the Welsh Government’s Food and Market Development Division and Visit Wales, with each application considered on individual merit and in light of available funding. Following consultation with the Food and Farming Panel the outcomes will be issued the week commencing March 19th.

This year there have been a number of major changes to the food festivals funding criteria, which has been tightened due to budgetary constraints and an increased number of applicants. Applicants must now submit a business plan and accounts as part of the application process, and all events supported must have food activity as its core. The closing date for applications is February 17th, 2012. The appraisal process will also look a number of other elements, including: the promotion of Welsh food culture, the benefit of the festival to the local community, the local economic benefit, and how the event meets to aims and objectives of the Food Strategy for Wales).

I’m sure that regular readers will not be surprised that I disagree with quite a lot that has been stated in this press release. But at least I’m pleased to have received it! I was just about to send a Freedom Of Information question through to find out when I’m likely to be told which festivals are running and who has taken the lion’s share of yet another reduced food festival budget this year.

I have sent quite a number of questions through to the Welsh Government (Food) Press Office and had notification that my questions have been passed on and will be answered shortly. Bearing in mind that I’m now completing pages for our March/April issue, I’m unsure whether I shall receive a response quickly enough to raise the issues I have with this PR in Welsh Country magazine.

But rest assured I’ll update on welshfoodbites in due course.