Summer Work – Review of Stratford-upon-Avon Food Festival.

The Stratford-upon-Avon Town Centre Food Festival returned for the eighth year on the 14th and 15th of September, whilst the  main event was held at a ‘larger and more weather-resistant location’ for fourth year. With the number of returning triumphs, the event has become known to many both in and outside the area attracting many visitors, as well as Stratford’s great amount of tourists. Over the weekend, their was the option to visit the free food festival in the town, or the main event at the Racecourse with an entry free. From the town centre, there was also a free shuttle bus which would take you down to the racecourse making the event easily accessible. Due to my lack of available time over the weekend, I decided to only visit the Town Centre Food Festival, as well as being slightly deterred from going to the main event because of having to pay.

The festival was being held in 3 locations in the town – Henley Street, Bancroft Gardens and Waterside. Firstly I visited Henley Street, which had a few stalls with quite a lot to offer although they were quite sparse. There were a range of Italian foods such as pasta and breads as well as a french food stall, along with another selling tablecloths, soaps and cardigans. These stalls seemed quite similar, and only attracting a small amount of attention however this may have been due to the time of morning. It also left a lot to be desired. In comparison, down on Bancroft Gardens and Waterside, there were already a great amount of people and buzz in the area. There was a huge range of cultural cuisine – Spanish, Jamaican, Mexican, Sri Lankan & Malaysian and Mediterranean just to name a few. Along with this were a lot of local businesses such as Woodhouse Farm Meats, Manor Farm Fruits, Cheshire Cheese Company and The Jabberwocky. Along with this were some sweet treats such as Churros & Chocolate, ice cream, donuts & sweets, fudge & traditional liquorice as well as a number of drinks stalls selling ciders, coffee and hot drinks, milkshakes, homemade lemonade and apple juice. Other stalls included a pig roast, falafel wagon, burritos & halloumi wraps, Stratford cook shop, chutney preserves and curds, hot dips, oils and vinegars, welsh cakes, honey and herb plants. The festival also catered to everyones needs, with stalls selling vegetarian and vegan foods and a bakery with gluten, lactose, nut and soya free items.

Behind all of these stalls, there was a small cookery theatre – ‘Chefs on Stage’. Here, they were demonstrating a number of cooking skills and dishes, which anyone was free to stop and view. There was also face painting nearby for children, and a tent set up which looked to be prepared for some entertainment/singers.

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Many on the stalls were giving fee samples, encouraging you to try new things and introducing you to the various cultures. There was no shortage of choice or something to eat, often feeling I could have tried a number of things. Some of the stalls were also promoting their company through social media, encouraging customers to follow them on Twitter or Facebook showing the impact of the Digital Age. Overall, I was really impressed with what was available in town and judging my it’s popularity at 10am on a Saturday morning, I can imagine the festival had a very successful weekend. In such a small space, a great range of cuisines from different cultures were brought together. With such an impressive display in the town centre, I didn’t feel as if I missed out by not going up to the main racecourse and I feel a number of people may have been put off going there due to having to pay to get in, whilst this great display in town was all free to attend. However, after seeing what was available it did make me more intrigued to see what differences there would have been at the main event which were hosting a number of demonstrations with cooks in the Cookery Theatre and Talk & Taste Theatre, as well as headlining chefs Sophie Michell and Paul Hollywood.

This article in the Stratford Herald prompted a few comments from people, mostly who had attended the main event as the racecourse which you had to pay for – which many left disappointed, due to the lack of hot food and expensive prices.

http://www.stratford-herald.com/local-news/7085-double-food-festival-what-did-you-think.html

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~ by victoriasimkissphotography on September 19, 2013.

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