To view last year’s post on Newcastle Emlyn see 20th June 2011
The week before the festival, I went into Emlyn and spotted one festival sign going into town from Aberbanc, bearing in mind I don’t think that a sign was taken downafter last year’s event, so maybe that was not likely to draw people’s attention. There was also one banner going across the High Street, but it was scrunched up and totally unreadable – so that was not a good start. But I did spot a sign on the far end of town too. Although I could have missed some, I could only see one shop that had a blackboard notice giving the festival date in their window. By the festival day they were a few more signs about but as one trader told me we only saw signs when we got to Emlyn itself, but lots directing us to the Game Fair which was also on at the same time – with a Food Hall.
So this is a massive disappointment to a town that wasn’t giving the impression of embracing their food festival, even though it is now in its second year. Last year I suggested that they organise a window shop display competition, but that idea obviously went down like a lead balloon, or maybe that was just too much for the organisers to cope with. Please do not give me the ‘busy committee explanation’ as people volunteered last year, as Welsh Country magazine did and we were not required. So far not going well and I have to moan, once again, that I haven’t had a press release about this event and before any of you are cheeky enough to say the organisers don’t know about Welsh Country magazine, they most certainly do!!! They advertised with us last year and we have discussed advertising this year but sadly to no avail.
I’ve been on their website, and it’s a plus point that they do have one but on the home page, there’s a Press Release, so why on earth can’t organisers manage to send a press release to the press? Is that too difficult? Or did they restrict for some reason the number of press releases they sent out? However on the website I did find a list of producers attending so there’s a plus point, but
unfortunately on the day it was proved not to be that accurate. I understand that Penlon Brewery hadn’t attended due to a burst pipe, which is fair enough. We’ve rung Penlon this morning and things are thankfully back to normal which is a huge relief. The website showed there are over 30 stalls already booked in which is a fair number. Sadly on the day I was quite frustrated with the
quality of some of the stands and would ask why one stand was selling preserves that didn’t show the ingredients listed or even a size on each jar. Methinks that is illegal……….
Some stands didn’t have business cards of literature, some didn’t even show clearly who they were either. Obviously the festival cannot monitor every aspect of every stand, but perhaps someone should spot check these things on the day. It’s a problem our
food industry has and we must try to get it solved.
I was very disappointed to read on the website that the only local chef doing any cooking at the event was Ludo, the others booked to attend were Steve Terry from Abergavenny, and Dudley who is also booked in at Lampeter for their July festival, plus an S4C presenter is opening the event. I have no idea how much top chefs charge to attend food festivals or the going rate for TV stars come to that, but I’m guessing that they don’t come too cheaply. I also query the point of asking ‘top’ chefs to what is a town food festival. How many people who braved the rain on Saturday came just to see Steve or Dudley? That would be interesting to know.
I only saw part of Ludo’s demo, but wish it was a rule that chefs planned ahead what they were going to cook, HAD to use the producers that where there, HAD to plug them and HAD to have just basic recipes leaflets to give the punters. So it’s a good job wag were kind to Emlyn again this year giving them funding of £7,133.80, an increase on last year’s £5,089.24. Which I guess meant that the organisers didn’t have to put on as many, if any, fund raising events, but I’m not sure where the extra £2k funding value went. There’s no problem in festivals being ‘local food fetes’, until they have wag funding and then they have a duty to put on a good event for the producers. It does appear though, that it’s only me that can see any value in plugging local chefs and of course their local eateries. I’m sure if I was a local chef in the Newcastle Emlyn area, I’d have been banging the organisers’ door down to make sure I got my invitation to cook there, perhaps that happened, perhaps it didn’t, or perhaps they were not required like
we and many others haven’t been, who knows…………
The weather of course was a massive blow to this event and you can only feel sorry not only for the organisers as they battled against the wet, but also for the producers who were so cold and for those that had to stand in puddles of water trying to sell their wares. It was really not at all funny, it’s a fact of life and we’ll never, ever have control over our weather. I think the last few wet weeks complete with floods, gave everyone plenty of warning of what they might expect. I’m not sure if this idea is feasible, actually as my last years ideas bit the dust, maybe I should even bother, but couldn’t the car park and cattle market both adjacent
to the playing field have been utilised for the main tents?
Anyway wet as I was, I did chat to quite a few producers as did Ian, I only found one who said the event was ok, others that the weather had killed it and local people just weren’t bothered to support their town event. Another thought I had was wondering why two smaller food tents were used instead of one larger one. That seems stupid to me because I would have though that one larger tent could build a better atmosphere, a better buzz and get people in the mood to spend. Ideally I’d like the demo kitchen in there too. What I couldn’t understand is having two food tents and Preseli Coffee and Welsh Brew Tea put in the same one!
Another puzzle for me was having six stands selling hot food, SIX stands. For goodness sake, that was 50% too many for any of them to make a living, even if you had managed to get more punters through the gate. Those hot food stands were spread around the field, with some inside for those not cooking, or creating cooking smells, but not in any logical order, again in my view. They had got a tent with tables and chairs so people could sit, eat and chat, so great news there. I will not repeat last year’s comment about the Clocktower area, with some ships closed there so that they could attend. Hopefully they made enough on the day to warrant closing their shops and sure we would have had many tourists to have been concerned about the closed shops.
After spending all this time and effort blogging this event, not to mention Saturday afternoon too, I wonder why I bother. Well the reason I bother is because our Best Of Welsh & Borders food producers deserve a good deal from food festivals and we need to get organisers working with producers and understanding what each other needs and making sure they get it – it really is as simple as that. Having said that if organisers don’t feel the points I raise are valid, then I might as well stay at home……….now how many food festival organisers were agreeing with that comment?
You have nothing to fear by leaving your comments. I enjoy reading your comments and sharing your thoughts, even if you disagree with me – that’s allowed! You can rest assured your details will only be known to me and that’s where they’ll stay – you have my word. You don’t have to put your name either, a pen name or nickname will suffice, we do have a large number of traders – but that’s fine, it’s the content that matters, what you’re happy with, what you are cross about, what in your view needs changing, etc.