More Food Festival Rumours

15 Oct

In my last story posted yesterday 14/10, I said I hear very little indeed from wag food. Well how true that is, because yesterday I was told by a foodie that Welsh food festival organisers have been requested by wag food to submit to them their list of food producers at their festival, so wag food can presumably check that they have hit the required 75% Welsh food producer criteria.

Well guys you really couldn’t make this up could you? I have been commenting publicly on welshfoodbites for the last three years and have always been very vocal with my views on Welsh food festivals. I’ve spoken to wag food directly, both face-to-face and in writing. I’ve made clear my disgust that last year wag food paid Miller Research to do a 2012 food festival evaluation at a cost of £43k, yet it was only last month that I was able to finally obtain a copy of their ‘words of wisdom’. I’m not sure that Miller gave wag food a copy of their report last year, so I cannot see how wag food decided on this year’s criteria, unless of course they continued to use my opinions from welshfoodbites…………………………

But my worry continues to be that these food festival evaluations are an utter waste of public money and help wag food only by allowing them to tick another box on their list. This year we have two companies doing an evaluation and, as far as I understand it, it will be achieved by them looking at the organisers’ paperwork submitted to wag food, plus them ringing organisers and no doubt ringing some producers too. I doubt very much if these two companies will have attended any of this year’s food festivals, if they have I’ve certainly missed them. So they will have to form their opinion simply working on completed paperwork and talking on the phone to a few folk, but at least wag food can then tick another box!!! I know I’m cynical, but all organisers might not tell it as it is, but rather as they know wag food wishes to hear. So what’s the point of that then? Again with producers, if they wish to attend a festival next year, are they going to complain about anything at all? Of course not, they are not stupid and I don’t give a hoot that these call ‘might’ be in confidence, producers will not believe that any more than they believe wag food are on their side!

CLES were the appointed company, for the food festival evaluation. Wavehill are approved contractors carrying out some of the work in partnership with CLES. The tender value was £27,800+vat.

Now all this puts a couple of questions in my mind. Firstly that wag food asking organisers for this information now seems to give CLES one less job to do. Secondly, playing the cynical journalist, how can wag food be sure what the organisers send them is correct? Thirdly what in theory is asking for how many Welsh stands were in attendance going to mean? Bearing in mind many, many festivals have already been paid their agreed grant funding. If at this late stage in the funding plan it is shown some festivals haven’t made the required 75% can wag food ask for a refund? Then as press releases and signage were other wag food criteria, so how can these be proved? Because from my side not many funded food festivals managed to do that one either.

Of course I’m delighted that wag food and the likes of Miller Research are viewing welshfoodbites on a daily basis, despite this site not being publicly funded like fork2fork at a cost of £43k for one year; it’s flattering that they can take on board what they read. What is disappointing is that cannot then make my suggestions work for the benefit of our producers. Plus there’s no need to thank me, I’m sure my accountant has to be wrong when he reminds me I have a VAT number not a charity number, can that really be true?

This week I had an interesting call from one of our Best Of Welsh & Border producers, telling me that they had again been turned down by Abergavenny. No reason was given to them, despite them being professional Welsh primary producers – if Welsh food festivals are not for the likes of them wag food, what are you funding them for? This company were simply thrown out whilst Abergavenny took numerous stands from Cornwall and the Isle of Wight. Sadly this is not only happening at Abergavenny, as many festivals are guilty of this poor practice. But whilst this practice continues, wag food have just stood pathetically by and watched it happen, whilst our Welsh producers are not only losing vital trade and revenue, they have no form of re-address against being thrown out. So wag food, how can that be fair?

I’ve also heard once again, another rumour saying that wag food will not be funding festivals again next year. Of course I’ve asked wag food and been told no decision has been made and I’m sure I’ll hear about Scottish food festivals before I hear about our Welsh ones. But if wag food don’t fund food festivals next year this department and its Minister will have, let’s say a lot of egg on their faces. However if wag food cannot come up with festival criteria that are workable, then maybe it’s easier that we all admit defeat, wag food have won and we might just as well give up.

I’m not sure whether to sum up this post by saying to wag food, too little, too late, or reminding you all once again that sadly, commonsense is certainly not commonly available.



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  1. cheeseman

    October 16, 2013 at 9:31 am

    My dad is always talking about the lack of common sense and he works here too.
    You’ve opened another can of worms, wag are trying to do a repair job but as you have clearly pointed out it’s too little too late and too expensive paying another 2 companies to evaluate.
    Most organisers are not stupid they know how wag need their forms filling in and they will do it but the message is lost that food festivals are supposed to be for producers first. You can add on the tourist trade but if you haven’t got the producers you haven’t got a festival, simple as that.
    Abergavenny has done whatever it wants for years and wag let them get away with it. Turning away Welsh producer and allowing producers in from Cornwall who I’m sure fund their guys to travel to festivals outside Cornwall is rubbish. We have fish people in Wales so why do we need fish from Cornwall here?
    wag food doesn’t support it’s producers and although you keep pushing our wants to them it is very slow to change. Goodness knows who advises wag food , if anyone, but that sure does need a rethink.
    I’ve been a best of welsh guy with you since your early days and I can’t thank you enough for keeping us in the loop with what’s going because wag sure don’t do that. I wish you got the credit that you deserve but at least you have the trust and support of many producers.

  2. cup cake

    October 16, 2013 at 11:43 am

    we all need to get, wag included, that you could never, ever run a business like their department is run.
    I’m sure it grates how wag and the many quangos use this site. It can’t seem like it, with the amount of work this site gives you, but you’re making headway.
    good job you’re not waiting for a thank u from them.
    thanks for your email to bow on Winter Fair
    great and useful stuff

  3. trader

    October 16, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    I’ve no time for wag food.
    They waste too much of our money and nothing changes that year after year. But that’s disgusting when so many of us producers are finding this life so hard. But do wag care? Of course not, we’re alright Jack is their attitude.
    They forget the reason for being, which should be top support food producers, but that don’t happen. And I mean all producers not those favourites with brown noses, those that get all the grants, get invites to the big events and get into all the festivals.
    What you tell us on here and in your regular emails, we’d never find out in a million years. You’re doing a good job, fighting our corner which is needed as we are too scared to stand up for ourselves and be blackballed as so many of us have.
    wag food working for us, that’s so not even funny, it don’t even raise a smile.

  4. Jay

    October 17, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Give up Kath
    You’ll rarely get wag food to understand the valid points you make and carry on making and when you do you’ll get no thanks
    I’m sure they pay for consultants and advisors but we know that’s just more money down the drain
    you’re doing far to much for wag food and for us producers. Unlike wag as least we thank you, but that’s not enough for a self employed person, employing others.

  5. trader

    October 17, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    evaluate, evaluate it’s the motto of our government and of course how wag food operates. Evaluate which is a posh word for tick another box.
    Only hard pressed business owners know this achieves nothing on a practical level as Kath keeps saying. If organisers forms are sent into wag food but what happens then? So they must then tick more boxes must they before the festival are then paid out? But quoting Kath again, how can wag check it’s own criteria have been met before they are paying out? It doesn’t seem that Kath has had much information from many festivals but as a journalist she should have but many organisers aren’t doing as they’ve been told but will wag still pay them?
    wag food need a reality check and the one Kath keeps giving them isn’t enough or wag can’t understand what’s needed.

  6. producer

    October 18, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    This site brings home to me every time I visit the great divide between the producers and wag food and HCC
    In my mind it’s a total failure of this department, it’s a massive waste of our money going out to companies who’s best strength is their face fits with this department. Genuine companies don’t get help because they no longer trust wag food or they haven’t time to try and find out if they can get any help at all. Too many decent companies rise or fail because this department isn’t interested in them.
    Someone said communication is the key but think they need to explain that to wag food. We hear nothing from them. But it is not just us who benefit fro this site wag do too but could do better if they could grasp what Kath is saying.

  7. Producer

    October 21, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    With regard to WAG funding food festivals in 2014. I have heard that we are waiting for the Minister to make an announcement. True or not I have no idea.

  8. Benji7???

    October 21, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    I understand that wag are issuing a statement on Wednesday, I think but not at all sure that it will relate even in part to Welsh food or food festivals.