There’s no getting away from it guys, I do enjoy this event and you all know that I don’t say that about many food festivals. Ian and I made an early start on Saturday and got there before opening up time. There were signs on my way down into Pembrokeshire which was good and then a polite, helpful man on car park duty. This was a great start to a day I was looking forward to. We had a quick catch up with Julia Powdrill, the hard working organiser, how she gets such a good team together always amazes me and I’ve had so much information on a regular basis from a recent newcomer to the team Alison Belton, for once with a food festival, I was very happy.
We had quite a number of our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, BOW, in attendance and that included Derek from Preseli Coffee, so no need for guessing my first stop for my caffeine fix. Derek does the best coffees and chocolates and his mocha coffees are marvellous. I’d want him to supply more of the coffee shops I visit, because quite a few of them could easily raise their standards with guidance and brilliant beans from Derek.
The food marquee was much, much bigger this year which was a good move. There were some tables and chairs laid out which worked well, allowing people to buy food and drink and eat it there and then. I’d have loved a few more tables, but at least they’d provided some! Perhaps a few straw bales would have been fun for the kids to sit down and eat their ice-creams whilst their parents chatted and had a break.
It was a shame this fab festival clashed with Lampeter and the Big Cheese, I do wish it was possible to spread the events more evenly. It doesn’t matter if they are clashing in the north and in the south, because very few producers would travel that far as a rule, but three does give some producers logistical problems, especially when they were following on the back of the Royal Welsh. There were some very tired producers there and which was totally understandable, although by many accounts the Royal had worked well for quite a few of them. The quality of food stands was very good, bearing in mind my bias, with so many of our BOW there, but the quality of the craft stands was also good, many of following the festival theme of the countryside.
I only had one producer complain that a £6.00 charge per adult was far too expensive and I’m sure that is something the organisers will look at after the have done their book-keeping and working out attendance levels. Usually I’m totally against an entrance charge, but this event has so much going on outside in the main ring and plenty to keep the children amused really for the whole day. To give you just a sample of what was on offer, there were birds of prey, ferret, racing, well wanging, skittles, alpacas; face painting, how to take shots with your camera and foraging walks and that’s just for starters. Plus there were lots of tables and chairs outside, it was only the wind that at times made it a little chilly. The setting of this festival with its stunning views over St David’s is fabulous. For me this festival is friendly and fun a great combination. This Festival is all about rural life and how we can all make the most of it. It offers the chance to get back in touch with the countryside; eat it, cook it, learn about it, even play with it. In my view they do a great job in promoting and showcasing locally grown or produced food, or wild ingredients foraged from the hedgerows, coast, beach and river. It’s a unique festival that’s found a niche in this fickle, food festival market.
I spent just a little time with yet another mocha coffee watching a cookery demo, an area that was popular throughout the day. I actually had a very polite young lady who was gong around the tent reminding people the next cookery demo was starting shortly. Great promotion team!!! My only point was that it would be a good idea to have in that cookery area a timetable of chefs cooking, or maybe even a whiteboard or a blackboard. I know there was a huge flyer with all those details on, but this would act as a reminder as people wandered past.
After being decidedly unimpressed with Pembrokeshire Produce Direct, PPD, when I saw their stand a few weeks ago at Milford Haven, I am pleased to report that PPD not only must have read my comments but they had actually acted on them. On Saturday their stand looked much better, they had a hamper with local produce in it, a computer screen showing their website and an abundance of banners about too. I was told they’d also put flyers on the seats in the kitchen area too. So some progress made on stand improvements, so I have to say well done on making some effort to raise your game. What I really think would work much better, is that when there are two people ‘working’ the stand, one of you move off it and approach people as they are passing your tradestand area. You have very few seconds to ‘grab’ people’s attention and I certainly don’t think that PPD has the luxury of waiting for people to come onto their stand for a chat. One thing I’d love to know is how many stands PPD have done since it was set up and how many leads have taken from each event. I wonder if I’m right in guessing that you gathered more leads at Really Wild than you did at Milford…………………………
I’m pleased that you did read welshfoodbites about Milford and more importantly did something about it, but in reality guys, why I do I have to tell you for free, how to do your job when you are the ones that were given £500k? Before you have to think too long about that, allow me to tell you that the only reason I’m bothered is that some of our Best Of Welsh & Border producers belong to PPD and they need ‘roads to markets’ or a distribution network that actually works.
Later in the day, one of our Best of Welsh producers left his stand to tell Ian that a lady working for Wag was in attendance and he actually said he felt they were on our side! Not one to miss a trick, when she was pointed out to him, Ian approached her and asked which department of Wag she worked for as she wasn’t badged up. About the same time, another producer told me that she had spoken to this lady and been told that she did work for Wag. Ian though was told she didn’t work for Wag, which was when he decided that she worked for Miller Research, which was indeed the case. The conversation between Ian and the Miller team member was good and productive but I still have to question why when anyone is working a festival is not badged up. At best this is unprofessional at worst sinister, I much prefer finding out information is fairer by being open and saying who you are.
Still puzzled why this producer thought she was on his side, but it is easiest if I give him a call and also find out what questions were asked. I’m not really sure what job Wag has asked Miller to do on this occasion, but I’ll surely find out!
In my view, I would have thought it professional for any people working at festivals to wearing badges and I’m certainly pleased to see so many producers wearing their own company clothing, which looks smart, professional and people then know who you are. I’m not sure if this job qualifies as research, I guess it does, so I’ve been checking out The Market Research Society. They have around 6,000 members and runs a code of conduct. Although we don’t know precisely what this latest work is all about, I’ve extracted a little from The Market Research website, which might be of interest:
Preparing for fieldwork
Communicating with Respondents
B.15 If there is to be any recording, monitoring or observation during an Interview, Respondents must be informed about this both at recruitment and at the beginning of the Interview.
Comment: This does not include monitoring (listening to but not recording) telephone Interviews for the purpose of quality control where Interviewers have been informed that such monitoring takes place.
B.16 Members must not knowingly make use of personal data collected illegally.
B.17 Respondents must not be misled when being asked for cooperation to participate.
B.18 A Respondent’s right to withdraw from a project at any stage must be respected.
B.19 Members must ensure that Respondents are able to check without difficulty the identity and bona fides of any individual and/or their employer conducting a project (including any Sub-contractors).
B.20 Calls for face-to-face in-home Interviews and calls to household landline telephone numbers or mobile telephone numbers (including text messages) must not be made before 9 am Monday to Saturday, 10 am Sunday or after 9 pm any day, unless by appointment.
Comment: The only exception to this is where local rules and customs differ from UK practice.
B.21 Members must ensure that all of the following are clearly communicated to the Respondent:
l the name of the Interviewer (an Interviewer’s identity card must be shown if face-to-face);
l an assurance that the Interview will be carried out according to the MRS Code of Conduct;
l the general subject of the Interview;
l the purpose of the Interview;
l if asked, the likely length of the Interview;
l any costs likely to be incurred by the Respondent.
B.22 Respondents (including employees in employee Research) must not be unduly pressurised to participate.
B.23 Members must delete any responses given by Respondents, if requested, and if this is reasonable and practicable.
B.24 Recruiters/Interviewers must not reveal to any other Respondents the detailed answers provided by any Respondent or the Identity of any other Respondent interviewed.
I’m sure I’ll get further updates of the questions the producers were asked, but my concern is that Miller are upfront, give their company name and then tell the producers that they are being paid by Wag to find out a little more about each festival Wag is funding.
If you have any comments to make please do share your views with others, you don’t even need to leave your name!