The 2014 Abergavenny Food Festival is nearly here! It will by my fourth year (I think, judging by the number of festival T-shirts I have) working there, and the first that I’ve been responsible for organising the children’s food academy so I am even more excited than normal. I wrote about my experience working for the festival last year, but I have discovered that’s nothing compared to what goes on behind the scenes!
So yes, I am going to plug going to the Abergavenny Food Festival because it’s one of my favourite times of year: stunning location, amazing producers, inspiring speakers, and a hard working team of bright t-shirt wearing workers who do all they can to help you leave with bulging shopping bags (and bellies!) full of amazing produce, and a list of products and/or recipes you can’t wait to try out at home.
I have a particular interest in family friendly activities and am pleased to see the number of these has increased again this year. You’ll find most of them up at the Castle – a perfect place to put your bags down and your feet up while you eat your lunch in the ruins of the medieval castle in sight of the magnificent Blorenge. It’s one of my favourite places in the world. No matter how busy we get on the day, looking out of the Food Academy Dome at the view makes my shoulders relax slightly. I am really looking forward to working with Jethro Carr of the Kitchen Academy, and Arts Alive will be there with the chance for kids to get crafty and contribute to a new community art project that will be installed in Nevill Hall Hospital. (Incidentally, they are looking for donations of rectangle fish tins – like the smooth edge sardine tins. If you have any to spare give Kathy a call.)
The Abergavenny Food Festival isn’t only about the kids, or about trying delicious food. It’s where you can hear experts, take part in master classes and foraging, and dine at exclusive pop-up restaurants. High points of the programme for me this year include the gorgeous Chiappa Sisters giving a pasta master class on Sunday afternoon (and judging our schools’ competition on Sunday morning); Distilled, with Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley a masterclass on spirit tasting (yes, tasting included!); and Root to Fruit, a tasting event with Thomasina Miers and Tom Hunt. If I wasn’t working, I’d also be going to Around the World in 80 Cakes with Claire Clark. You can see the full Abergavenny Food Festival programme here.
My top tips for visiting the Abergavenny Food Festival are:
- get there early. Sunday morning is generally the quietest time and you’ll be able to see and talk to the exhibitors more easily.
- bring your children to the Food Academy! The times are listed in your programme – no need to book, but pick up a ticket half an hour before your chosen session
- bring shopping bags
- use the park and ride or take the train
- don’t have a massive breakfast before you arrive
- try to catch a Rude Rant or two up at the Castle (near the Blorenge Bar – very handy!)
- bring wet wipes. There are toilets and hand washing facilities around the festival, but sometimes sticky fingers can’t wait.
- Enjoy it. Abergavenny Food Festival is fun and, despite its size, has a really laid back vibe. It’s foodie without being pretentious, and I love being able to chat with the people who actually make the products.
If you’ve been to Abergavenny Food Festival before, please add your tips in the comments, or let me know what your favourite part is.