Who Controls The Funded Food Festival Calendar?

07 Oct

My answer – no-one.

Ian and I were at Brecon food festival on Saturday. Other festivals also on last weekend were Newport and Neath, all three of them mid/south based. All three of them were funded by the wag food to the tune of nearly £20k. I got endless complaints from producers, mostly saying the same thing, why three festivals on the same weekend that they could basically all attend reasonably easily. Yet next weekend there is only Anglesey running, which is too far for many of the mid/southern producers to attend. So if these producers only have the staff and resources to attend one festival, how do they make their decision? That’s a tough one isn’t it? Where are they going to make the most money is really what they come down to, isn’t it? Some producers did manage to do two festivals, but it meant either having to bring in temporary help, or run each stand solo.

This is not a new discussion point I’m introducing, Ian and I have been mentioning it for years, but to no avail – no-one bothers to listen. One wag official did tell me there was nothing wag food could do about it, but I totally disagree. I think it should be part of wag food’s job to encourage food festival organisers to talk amongst themselves and plan a sensible working calendar for the benefit of the food producers. It will actually help them too as it should bring a greater selection of artisan food producers to them clamouring for a pitch. If that’s not possible, I think wag food should then say: if you can’t help with this basic issue, then some festivals will not be funded if they clash dates. Money has always been power and the ‘government cashier should surely have a say………………….

The food department, in my view is there to support food producers,  but if I was a producer with a choice of three festivals last weekend and really nothing this coming weekend, I’d be furious and feel as many said on Saturday that this department is letting them down – again. A couple of producers were cross with me, which was unfair, as I’ve said this many, many, many times to the government that this should be done. So far I’ve failed in making wag food see my point of view, but the sad thing is my point of view relates to feedback I get, from producers that wag food in effect are supposed to be supporting.

Another question I was asked on Saturday was how many wag food employees attended their 32 funded food festivals? Many or any? Well if you take out Cardiff and Abergavenny, I’d say not very many at all – if any.

My final moan was that I’ve had no press releases from any of these three festivals; in fact I couldn’t find a list of producers for Brecon on the web. But that’s no longer new news for you is it? But to be fair, I didn’t bother checking the other two festivals as I’d no intention of visiting them as well. So why do wag food bother to issue any criteria to food festival organisers? What’s the point? Is it just another pointless box ticking exercise? Which I have to say wag food are good at, aren’t they? I just can’t understand how wag food think they can accurately analyse that their criteria are followed. The two companies wag food are this year paying to do a food festival evaluation, is from my side, a total waste of our money. Apart from the fact that another box will be ticked.

So it seems not to matter that these unresolved issues continue year after year after year, and our producers are not being supported.

I’ve yet to have any feedback from either Newport or Neath.


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  1. John Evans

    October 7, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    Create a Food Festival Co-operative, allowing producers and organisers to communicate effectively. By creating a co-operative members would be able to agree dates that are suitable for all.

    Possible solution?

  2. Benji7???

    October 8, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Anything to get food festivals improved for all concerned makes sense to me
    Is your idea for organisers to arrange it themselves or wag food to arrange a co-operative?
    Many thanks for coming up with a solution
    hopefully others will join in with ideas too

  3. Producer

    October 9, 2013 at 8:24 am

    I think that it is unlikely that food festival organisers will form a co-operative with or without wag food. Perhaps if the producers formed a group they could speak to the organisers about their concerns.

  4. trader

    October 9, 2013 at 10:16 am

    isn’t it common sense that wag food would exercise some control over their funded food festivals?
    It seems an obvious one to me, and others like me that attend a lot of festivals, but it’s not to that lot. Why?
    Because they get paid at the end of each month.
    A big shake up there is needed and maybe the new guy can do it, we’ll see.

  5. Jay

    October 10, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Kath continues to state the obvious, but even she cannot get even basic improvements made by wag food.

  6. beer boy

    October 10, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    If wag food are supposed to be working for food producers, why is it on here, an unfunded website that I find out the most news and views of the food industry?
    If wag food are supposed to be working for food producers why is if on here that it constantly states the obvious?

    Of course someone responsible should be checking festival dates don’t clash in similar areas and if they do some shouldn’t be funded.
    It has taken this site years to get wag to accept that the big festivals shouldn’t take the most money out of the budget year after year, even when we were all told they are supposed to be at some stage self-funding.
    Sure Kath didn’t get any thanks or credit for her efforts, that would be too much.

  7. Benji7???

    October 10, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Thanks from wag food – not that I can recall!!!!!!!!! But not that I’d expect either!!
    thanks for joining in with a comment

  8. cup cake

    October 11, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Control? Wag Food?
    You’re joking.
    It seems organisers can do what they want basically when they want. As has been pointed out another festival survey is throwing more money down a very full drain. Why pay anyone from the outside to do an evaluation, they will be clueless and by the time its published we’ll be 1/2 way through next year
    so what value is that?
    oh tick another box for wag

  9. Mr T

    October 14, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Obviously no-one
    That is why the calendar is in such a mess year after year.