The first Shrewsbury Food Festival left the town buzzing as the gates opened to more than 8,000 people over the weekend - this exceeded expectations by more than 3,000 visitors! Next year's festival has already been booked and is doubling in size!
Shrewsbury's stunning Quarry Park was the perfect location - green park land in the loop of the River Severn, with the backdrop of Shrewsbury School and St Chad's Church; an idyllic place for enjoying the highest quality artisan foods.
Exhibitor stands were overwhelmed by customers - with many producers selling out of their weekend stock on the first day! More bread was baked and sausage rolls made on Saturday evening, ahead of Sunday. The festival engaged people of all ages; from the educational tent for children to the Wenlock Spring Chef Demonstration Stage, which showcased some of the best Shropshire chef talent - including ITV This Morning's Marcus Bean and Great British Menu star, Will Holland.
Beth Heath, Event Chief Executive, commented; "We are absolutely thrilled with how the first Shrewsbury Food Festival went - we could not have hoped for more! We have already started to plan next year's event - which will return even bigger and better! The festival was a complete team effort and we cannot thank our volunteers and sponsors enough, for their support and generosity. Our aim was to create a family day to celebrate the food-rich haven of Shropshire and I think that this was most definitely achieved - as well as a real boost for our beautiful historic town. We cannot wait to see what next year's festival brings!"
Exhibitor Natalie Wheen brought a piece of Greece to Shrewsbury with her Avlaki organic olive oils. Natalie commented; "Quite simply, this was the best food festival we've experienced - both as exhibitors and as visitors. As a new business we've been researching our market over the past 18 months - not least the well-established big foodie events run by major household names - and Shrewsbury's inaugural event left them standing. The quality of exhibitors was really high: a terrific array of good things to see, to taste and to marvel at the wealth of industry and talent showcased, with none of the usual suspects who we now know trail from one show to the next with some very doubtful produce. This was a true celebration of the local food culture. Avlaki oils (being produced in Greece, so hardly local!) felt very honoured to be allowed to join this splendid festival. Also the venue was great: a generous space so that the public had room to move around and see what each stall had to offer; space also for people to sit out and enjoy the atmosphere, listen to music, chill out - so they had a great day out too. And finally: the space was kept immaculate throughout the two days."
And local producer, Rob Cunningham from Maynard's Farm in Shropshire, added; "We cannot commend the organisers enough, for the hard work they put into creating such a fantastic festival. There was a constant stream of visitors to our stand, who were genuinely interested in top-quality meat. By Saturday afternoon, I had already sold half of Sunday's stock - so it was a busy evening for me, replenishing supplies! As well as our stand, we also had our catering van at the festival to feed the crowds of people - and this was hugely popular throughout the weekend."
Chris Darlington, Manager of Battlefield 1403 Farm Shop in Shropshire, said; "This was a first for us as we have never attended a food festival before, we were very quick to support the event through social media and in our shop - as we recognised the potential an event such as this could have for Shrewsbury, Shropshire and ourselves. Even still I don't think any of us could have expected just how successful it was and I'm sure the weekend has cemented The Shrewsbury Food Festival firmly in place for a healthy future, which Battlefield 1403 and myself are very proud to be part of!"
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