Saundersfoot St Davids Day Festival

05 Mar

Well another year and what changes did I find at this event that ran over 3 – 4 March?

I’d got a press release, courtesy of Pembrokeshire County Council, so that was a good start. But despite searching the internet, there was no way I could find a list of producers who were attending, a job I wouldn’t have thought that was too difficult to do. I didn’t see any signage as I drove through from Ceredigion to Saundersfoot, so no improvement on last year there. It was about 1.00 when Iarrived to see a sign informing me that the cawl bowls that you had to purchase to join in the Cawl Cooking Championships, had already sold out – although I believe it was running until 3.00. So whether they’d produced less bowls or had more people coming through, who knows, but one venue taking part still had cawl left at 3.30pm. What I didn’t realise this that all the venues pay for the cawl they produce themselves and they see this as supporting their villiage. 

There was still a charge to go into the food and craft marquee of £2.00 per person. Now if you want to disagree, please do so, but why would I want to pay £2.00 to go into a marquee so I can buy some food? Is it worth £2.00 to maybe grab a seat to watch a ‘person’ cooking? Another annoyance was that I couldn’t see a board saying which cooks/chefs were cooking, but I did get a comment from a producer who said only one cheese producer had been asked by the kitchen crew for any cheese, but why wasn’t the bulk of the producers involved in this cookery demonstration?

I’m now thinking that I have got this food festival lark totally wrong. If the festivals are for the benefit of the producers then many of the organisers are not doing their job properly.  Many are not giving the producers any publicity on the web, there was no printed programme, so no publicity there either, and then the cooks/chefs can’t be told to use the produce from the producers that have paid their money to be there.

There was only one producer that I spoke to that felt a charge to come in was OK, because the marquee had to be paid for, butdid feel that £2.00 was a but steep. I explained that Wag had put in £5006.35 funding, and stands were being charged £100.00 without electric and £125.00 with electric. He then had a ‘light bulb moment’ deciding that maybe any door charge was the reason that there weren’t many people there!

Bearing in mind that Saturday is always the busier day than Sunday, I actually only spoke to one stallholder who was reasonably happy with trade, but as he was being paid by a producer, to be there, so maybe that explained his attitude, as against being self-employed. I couldn’t understand why a festival would allow 3 pasty producers to attend, especially when two of them were sited next to each other,  – now that’s not difficult to avoid is it? But even worse was having 6 preserve producers. Some intelligent person out there please explain how these producers are supposed to break even, let alone make any money with this going on?  There were quite a few Best Of  Welsh & Borders producers there but upsetting to hear that they were hardly rushed off their feet.

There were about 3 food stands outside, plus a climbing bungee platform for the children, and a duo making music. Inside the copunt was 10 craft stands and 19 food stands.

I’m all for food festivals, but this one, but like many others, this event belongs in my category of village fete. If you cannot be bothered to tell the world who is going to be at your festival, if you can’t be bothered to put some signs out as a reminder for people, let alone attract some passing drivers, then why should Wag help you foot the bill? I still believe that the interests of the producers should be the main objective for the organisers. If this is not case then don’t apply for a Wag donation when Wag’s objective is to help promote Welsh food via these producers.


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  1. food producer

    March 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    I didn’t go this year and pleased I didn’t waste my money
    I’ve spoken to friends that did attend with stands and was told that the food officer from PCC was there around the kitchen area. So if PCC sent out a press release, why didn’t PCC make sure that a better job was done? £2 to go in what a rip off. No signs to grab people travelling nearby, is this what a food officer does or rather ignores?
    It’s ok for PCC employees, you that get your pay every month, but you have no idea how tough life is for us self-employed people. You should be helping us not hindering us.
    3 pasty and 6 jam traders, who was responsible for organising that, beccuase they have no idea.
    Have organisers to have a certain number of stands to get their wag payment? If so this type of thing is going to happen more and more and damge our takings further.
    Wag should know better after all this time.
    You really can’t treat traders like this, not at those prices, we are better off doing markets and even they are generally not that good.

  2. Dragonfly63

    March 7, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Three of us travelled 30 miles specifically to stock up on superb pies that we first experienced at the National Botanic Gardens Food Fair (entrance to which was totally free and was packed). When we discovered that there was a £2 entrance fee we decided, on principle, not to encourage this stupid idea of charging people to ‘allow them’ to buy things. A lot of others felt as we did and were quite loudly discussing their decision. This must have resulted in the exhibitors having a greatly reduced market for their products, and from the food producers that I have spoken to since the event a distinct lack of support for any future event of this type in Saundersfoot in coming years. Lots of people = lots of money being spent =happy traders, happy purchasers and lots of support for the future. Where did this go so badly wrong it had such great potential?

  3. local

    March 8, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I’m a local and I object most strongly that I was asked to pay £2.00 to go in to shop.
    I have no interest in the silly kitchen idea and if the £2.00 was to pay for that, then put that in another tent and let people pay if they want to see a low-key cook show off.
    I feel sorry for the traders because quite a few people would not pay to go in.
    Saundersfoot got a grant from the government, the traders then paid for their space or tables, but they then expect people to pay to go in to shop. I had no idea that the cawl supporters had to pay for all their cooking and buying produce themselves – what a huge expense for them.
    People had to pay for their cawl bowls, so who was making the money, just the person producing the bowls or did the organisers get a percentage from each bowl sold?
    I don’t understand it and I will never ever attend one of these events again. I’m ashamed of my village

  4. chutney chap

    March 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I’m so pleased after reading this report that I did not attend. The tales I’ve heard since are dreadful.
    You cannot charge people to enter just to sit on a hard chair, in a drafty tent to watch a cook/chef probably not many have heard of.
    How many times have producers and Kath to ask, and plead for these chefs to use products from the traders at each event?
    I thought these types of events were for us traders but that is not the case and nothing is changing despite the complaints.
    Wag seem to be suffering from deafness or living on their couldn’t care-less-attitude.