Aberystwyth Food Festival

18 Sep

Held this weekend, the same as the Abergavenny festival, I was debating as to whether I wanted to spend the full weekend at food festivals and visit both. Still undecided, I thought I’d check out the web and see which food producers were attending Aberystwyth, great idea that, but it failed. I ended up on True Taste website which is a rarity for me I can assure you. But all I could find when the festival was on, where it was, that there were cookery demos and 50 producers were attending. That was it. No details of which food producers were attending, so if I wanted on spec to contact one and pre-order for Saturday, I’d no idea who was going to be there unless it is just the regular market traders, plus some.

I am totally fed up of saying the same thing, but I am so cross I’ll repeat myself. This festival is getting funding from wag food of £3,613.04 which is about a third of what they’d asked for, but I have no idea how wag food worked out which festivals got what – that’s another wag food mystery. For this year wag issued a long list of criteria and just in case a reminder is helpful, here’s what is required:

Food Culture Grant Funding – Food Festivals Criteria

The following points should be borne in mind when considering the criteria:

Promotion of Welsh Food Culture

  • Clear focus on Welsh food and drink/supported by strong programme of associated events
  • Supporting a good range /quality of producers
  • Well established /growth potential
  • Supplemented by chefs demos/opportunities to showcase produce
  • Awareness raising of the event by promotional material/ Press/signage
  • Press, PR and marketing – budget identified/appropriate to the scale of event
  • Greater awareness of local food – championing local producers
  • Innovation
  • Benefit to Local Community
    • Educational or social function – building on benefits of fresh, local, quality produce.
    • Stimulating both the demand for local produce and the supply in the area
    • Community engagement/participation
    • Involvement of local businesses particularly hospitality sector
    • Cultural entertainment
    • Sense of Place
    • Local Economic Benefit

Community links and partner organisational engagement

  • Evidence of spend towards local economy e.g. wages/goods/ services (accrue to the host community)
  • Economic impact on Producers
  • Creation of jobs
  • Sustainability
  • Building on the tourism offer/true food destination
  • Stimulates new enterprise and business growth
  • Other public and private sector investment leveraged

 Meeting objectives/aims of the Welsh Government

  • Grow the sales of Welsh food and drink in the Tourism sector
  • Increase consumer confidence in, and awareness of the quality of food purchased in Wales
  • Increase sales of Welsh food and drink 

Obviously I’ve a special interest in two of these criteria, awareness raising of the event by promotional material/Press/signage & Press, PR and marketing – budget identified/appropriate to the scale of event. Well dear reader, you’ll probably not be surprised to learn that I’ve not had one press release from Aberystwyth food festival, nothing at all, zilch! I’m guessing there might be something in the local paper this week and perhaps that qualifies as ‘appropriate to the scale of event’. But if the organisers send a press release to their local paper, why wasn’t it sent to me? Do I no longer qualify as a journalist with a special interest in Welsh food? I simply can’t understand when an event has taken the time to write a press release, why it is not sent to all media. The main time and effort is in writing the press release, not in sending it out via email to your press mailing list.

I get many complaints from producers about low attendances at some events, sometimes implying it’s my fault! I then have to explain that if a food festival is working with us, we follow through from their advert to using for all press releases and news items and then use social media for them as well. But when I ask producers if they’d enquired as to how the festival was going to promote & market their festival, I’m then told – but I didn’t ask them that – but why not? It matters to you and your livelihood.

As for the fact I can’t find on the web which food producers are attending, is another big black mark, because ultimately a food festival is there surely to focus and promote the food producers. If the task of putting all producers up on the web who have paid their money to attend is too tough a task, then why are wag funding it, albeit with such a small amount?

I’ve posted about wag food paying two companies to do a review on food festivals this year but as I’ve already ranted, in my view this is another total waste of money because I cannot see how these companies will pick up on these issues. Unless of course they read and use welshfoodbites as Miller Research appeared to do in their  review for 2011, we’re still waiting for 2012 is not yet published!!! But as always it’s the food producers that lose out on the promotion side and wag just don’t seem to understand it.


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  1. Producer

    September 18, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    I have seen nothing in the local press, but that does not surprise me. Advertising seems to be a foreign concept. I know it is on because I am attending, but as yet I have not recieved any info for the festival.
    I saw the bit on the TT website, and what I hope is a typing error as it says ” Including a competition for schools to design a ’footy’ poster with a prize donated by Food Centre Wales. I do hope there are not posters of feet, as this may affect the sales for the cheese guys!

  2. Andy

    September 18, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Our market pretty much ticks all their boxes !!!, albeit we only have a cooking demo once a year or so. This is done with no external funding. This Saturday we have our first open jam session [musically that is] . Acoustic strings, brass, drums and vocals are all welcome.

  3. producer 3

    September 19, 2013 at 8:56 am

    In my humble producer opinion you have been spot-on with the information you have unearthed on food festivals. For years you and Ian have been regular visitors at lots of festivals. You know what you are talking about, but it helps you run a business not work for the council or the government. Ian is there to get more people on your Best Of Welsh magazine bit, whilst you chat to producers if they are not busy serving – which is often the case. You give us details of what’s happening that you don’t always put up on here, then you sometimes report on festivals telling them what you’ve experienced as a visitor. Some then do take notice, action and make changes that you’ve picked up one and they improve. Yippee.

    I know you backed off doing as many reports when Miller were paid handsomely for doing just that, which was a shame. But you told me they were reading and using this site and your work, for free.
    Thankfully I’m not doing this festival doing Abergavenny instead. But Aber. are doing a very poor job and I don’t think they should be funded at all. No list of producers attending, that’s stupid, festivals should be for us.

    Wag food will not tell you you’re doing a great job, but producers will and I know do so. If wag food do have advisors and are paying them they should be sacked.

  4. Lettita

    September 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    As a newby to the area and after being handed a flyer on Saturday, I headed over to the food festival that had received some not so nice comments on your web site(incidentally found this by researching the Aberystwyth Food Festival online). I headed towards the throngs of people across the road and found a wonderful array of stands full of local produce, cookery demonstrations and happy children carrying wonderfully modelled balloons and smoothies they had created by pedal power. After reading about the Food Festival on your web site, I can’t believe that this is the same event you have “blogged” about. I was in Aberystwyth on business and once my work was done, returned at 2:30, hoping that I would be able to make some purchases before returning to the south of the county. It was still packed with people with queues at stands so, I waited patiently and was rewarded with such lovely vegetables, meats and preserves. so, WELL DONE to the Food Festival in Aberystwyth it was a great experience and as some of the stands attend a Farmers Market there twice a month, I know where I’ll be heading in future for my local fresh food.

  5. Benji7???

    September 23, 2013 at 8:48 am

    I’m sorry that I don’t seem to have been clear in my post about this festival – but it was about lack of information to the press and a lack of information about which food producers were attending – from my side it’s quite simple. I wanted information and it wasn’t available.
    However as you were in Aberystwyth on Saturday I am delighted that you were handed a flyer and found you way to the festival. I am also very pleased that you not only enjoyed yourself there, but you supported the producers that were in attendance and bought food, that’s brilliant and that’s my point. I’m a journalist and publish Welsh Country magazine which is very supportive of Welsh local producers. I devote about 10 pages per issue backing and supporting our Welsh producers. When I tried to get a list of producers that were attending on Saturday there wasn’t one on the web. This food festival is one of many supported by the Welsh Government. The Welsh Government require food festivals to adhere to their stated criteria as have been clearly stated quite a few times on welshfoodbites. Welshfoodbites is my food blog giving my views as a journalist and a supporter of Welsh food producers.

    What you see as a visitor to the festivals is obviously what’s important to you and I’m relieved that you enjoyed and then intend to visit the farmer market. That is great news. I can understand that as a visitor you might be content that there was no pre publicity for the producers attending, but I and the producers really aren’t. Our government funds food festivals firstly to support the food producers, which supports our economy as money stays in the county and of course in Wales. I don’t think it is too difficult or too taxing for the organisers to at least update a website.
    If you feel that journalists don’t need press releases, which means that producers miss out on the likelihood of more pre publicity, then we are poles apart. I’m sure if you’d asked producers if they’d have liked more people there – they’ve have said yes. If you have asked producers if they’d have liked more people there spending more money, they’d have said yes to that too! Being a food producers is a tough role made much worse by this tough economic climate and councils backing supermarkets and out-of town shopping centres.
    If an organiser is taking money from the government to promote food producers, then they have a duty to obey the government’s criteria and put food producers first.
    If you are a regular visitor to Aberystwyth then I’m disappointed that you were unaware of the farmers’ market which has been running fortnightly for years.

  6. cup cake

    September 24, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    festivals shouldn’t be funded if they aren’t obeying wag’s rules, otherwise why does wag make rules?
    But as Kath says no-one will challenge the festivals that bend wag’s rules