Fabulous Food Festival At Lampeter

29 Jul

Thankfully this is a fairly local festival for me and it’s sited in the impressive grounds of the Lampeter campus of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. The setting is superb for a food festival and they had wonderful support from over 70 food stands, many of which are with us as our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, BOW,  so that always puts me in a cheery mood. But as much as I like seeing our BOW producers, I much prefer it if they are too busy to talk to me, but having said that, I still wanted some feedback from those that had also attended the RWAS during the week. Producers that had done both events must have been mentally and physically shattered, four or five days at the Welsh with barely a day’s break in between and then onto Lampeter. But Lampeter certainly beat RWAS in the warm welcome stakes. They were blessed with wonderful weather until about 4.00ish when some rain came in but a huge achievement to be running for 16 years.

There was plenty of signage going in and that had been up some time which I was delighted to see, as you well know that’s one of my regular moans. Rebecca Jones was the lady in charge of PR & Marketing and she’d done a good job, so no complaints there either, especially as there was an exhibitors’ stand list on their website, plus they were all included in the free festival programme with their website details too, another bonus!  There was no charge to go in either so it was a very pleasant start to the day and pleased Lampeter could sort out their budget to avoid having to charge on the gate. Lampeter was funded by wag the festival asked for £7k and got £7k not sure why they didn’t ask for £10k because; in my opinion they’d have deserved it. Ideally I wouldn’t site stands together if they were both doing jars, i.e. jams and chutneys, but that I guess is just giving the orgnaisers even more work to do! I was pleased to see quite a few stands that were new to Ian and I and one enterprising stand, Amanda Jane’s of Anglesey also doing Summer Punch over ice – smart move – but I bet other traders will follow their lead on that one at the next festival!!!

The craft fair was moved from the attractive quadrangle area which I always thought worked well and that was now under one tent near the music stage and had been handed over to the Ceredigion Craft Makers. Stand numbers were down but I do think that many craft people are finding the economic climate very tough. So it certainly didn’t work for the craft makers and I think perhaps wag worried some organisers about having too many craft stands, but I do think craft stands can keep people there longer, which means perhaps the food guys can sell to them again later in the day. I can see wag have no wish to fund cheap craft stall but if craft are paying as much if not more than food stalls it should still benefit the festival overall.

Ian and I were there from ten until four so we had lots of time to chat and that we certainly did. There’s no grapevine as good as our food grapevine! Generally feedback from Lampeter was good, and I think that is purely down to the hard-working committee who has managed to create a really friendly and very worthwhile event. Lampeter were not only lucky with the warm weather, giving it very much a garden party atmosphere but they manage to improve the festival each year and you cannot ask for more than that, can you? Feedback from Lampeter was very positive with some traders running out of stock. Great news, but annoying for them that they’d not taken more with them, but you just can’t judged it right every time, that’s impossible. The general feedback from Rwas was fairly positive, although some traders did take more at Caerphilly Big Cheese over the weekend than they’d done in 4 days at the Rwas.

Although I don’t live in Lampeter, I was pleased to see a few local people that I knew attending. This festival is gradually building up tremendous support from locals and I hope they can continue to do so in the future. One familiar face that I’d bumped into at the Rwas on Monday was Mark Williams, Ceredigion’s hard-working MP; it was good to have another quick chat with him. I also understand that AM Elin Jones paid a visit to the festival as well, so two VIPS is more good news for Lampeter.

There was a change in the original layout as the committee had moved the music and main seating area away from the food stands. I much preferred the festival this way as it meant the producers could chat easily to the visitors and of course this is what it’s all about. There was still an active music stage area, alongside plenty of activities for children, without any distraction to the trade of food and drink. There were numerous seating areas dotted around the festival and I must say how well used they were. It was brilliant to see so many people buying quality food and drink and sitting down and having a good gossip. What did upset me and I think the only thing that really got me cross on the day, was seeing mobile food vans. There were two if not three in attendance. Now mobile vans I have to accept at agricultural shows to feed the masses, but there’s no way I can accept  them at a food festival. Absolutely not! Lampeter had got some of the best artisan food producers there, which is no mean feat considering there were other food events on that weekend too. But local quality food is what we/they should be promoting and pushing from our artisan producers, not giving pride of place to the likes of Dinky Donuts. Many of the producers were doing a wide range of hot foood from samosas to paella and I can certainly recommend Harmony Herds’ scrumptious boarburgers. I’m not a burger fan, but the quality of these are exceptional with a delicious salsa tomato sauce. When you have got producers of this quality, you should be backing them hook line and sinker. What made this even worse was that two mobile vans were parked next to one of the covered seating areas and the kitchen demo area – not a smart move – but again that’s my opinion.

The cooking area worked well and there was a list of who was cooking and when, plus giving music line-up too on the side of the tent, so another plus point. I think my only helpful comment was perhaps making sure people were told who Vicky North and Simon Wright were, that would have been useful. It also showed in the programme that Lyn Ebenezer was opening the event. Lyn is from Pontrhydfendigaid and is an author and an S4C presenter. Small details, I know but they do matter for visitors from outside the town especially.

I had a quick chat with Chris Thomas, Chair of the festival and was sorry to hear he was stepping down after this year’s event. He has worked hard to continually improve the festival and I wish him well after his marathon slog. I’m certainly not against a change at the top, it’s often a good thing, a new person with often new ideas. Also unless you’ve done this job, it’s so easy to take organisers for granted, forgetting or ignoring how much work is involved. Many of them are usually volunteers with full-time jobs and families to look after as well, so I’m sure Chris will enjoy having more time for himself and can be satisfied that he’s really moved this festival forward.


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  1. local

    July 29, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    I’m annoyed after reading all this that I didn’t bother going as so shattered after the Royal.
    I’ll make sure I book that one in next year just wish it was running mid August when I’ve not much one!
    Enjoyed reading this but miffed I wimped out

  2. producer 3

    July 30, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Good festival this one does seem to improve.
    Liked no entrance charge and there were plenty of people there. The good weather made them stay longer too.
    Good festival for us and we’d go again if they can keep moving the level onwards and upwards.
    Chuffed to see you two there, spending so much time circulating and chatting. You’re regular faces at festivals and always plenty of news for us.
    How do wag know if this or any festival is good, bad or total rubbish if they don’t go?

  3. admin

    July 30, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Good to see you too and pleased it worked for you. I’m pleased with this festival, many improvements which is how it should be.
    I understand that it’s not wag’s job to attend these events.
    Organisers have ask traders to fill in a form – they go into wag – in theory!
    Wag have appointed two companies to evaluate food festivals for 2012. I’m guessing they’ll look at the filled in forms, ring a few people and make their report. As a cynical journalist that exercise might be of some slight use in people told the truth as many are running on fear of saying the wrong thing to wag I don’t see this working to any benefit to the producers and festivals are basically for them.
    It’s another load of money pushed down another wag food black hole BUT they’ve ticked a box!!!!! We all know life can’t run in Wales without box ticking and wag food are the experts on box ticking.

  4. cheesey

    July 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Well done everyone this was a good event
    Weather of course helped.
    But brilliant atmosphere, music in better place and everyone seemed to have a good time
    One to book for next year.