SPOTLIGHT ON . . .  Nantwich Food and Drink Festival                First written September 2010 - updated 2016

Food lovers flock to town's festival

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Coronation Gardens in Beam Street was a new venue for the new-look Food and Drink Festival. At least, I don't recall it having been the site for stalls in marquees before.

 

 

UPDATE: The event is now held entirely in the town centre, including the food demonstrations which were formerly held on Mill Island. 

AN estimated 30,000 people flocked to Nantwich for the town's Food and Drink Festival on the weekend of September 24-26, 2010. And a decision of the new not-for-profit organising committee proved a good one. Despite - or because of - not including Mill Island as one of the venues (the sole venue in the past) seemed to have paid off.

   The main arena was The Square in the centre of town - plus other streets in the town centre - but the main indoor venue was the Civic Hall in Market Street, renamed the Mornflake Food Hall after the sponsors.

   The car park behind the White Horse pub in Pillory Street also had a new name - The Food Live Terrace where children's cooking was one of the events. Of course, many of the traders enthusiastically taking part were in their own premises as in previous years - and many were open on the Sunday, a day when they were usually taking a well-earned rest.

   But it wasn't just the town centre premises that were taking part. The Globe Inn in Audlem Road, towards the outer limits of the town, were serving food all day, and there was a "Cheerbrook Sausagefest" at Cheerbrook Farm just inside the outer ring road. Plus other out-of-towners.

   

PUBLICITY in local newspapers and on large advertising boards at various places in and around the town had obviously worked. The sunny weather clearly helped to bring in the visitors but it was often hard at times to move from stall to stall, from shop to shop.

   Foodies wishing to see the many stalls in the Civic Hall found themselves facing long queues (at one time the line went from the hall to the next-door Peter

   

War, became part of the festival when the exhibitors laid on a food tasting event.

   The Curator (Anne Wheeler) later reported "an amazing weekend" which smashed all attendance records "by miles". The Saturday saw "an incredible" 1,646 visitors, with 895 on the Sunday. Food made for the special Sunday opening had to be used on the Saturday, followed by a rush to make new batches for the Sunday.

    A glossy 44-page programme, supported by advertisements placed by those taking part, listed all the events of the weekend. Volunteers recruited by the organisers included some who were distributing the programme (left). Many people refused these - until they were told they were free!

   Chairman Cllr Graham Fenton and his team can hold their heads high with pride for a job well done.

 

HAVING said that . . . I have heard one complaint that the Love Food Hate Waste (a Cheshire East Council campaign) chef demonstrations had (a) been seen before, and (b) weren't as good as the star-name chefs that appeared in the marquee on Mill Island where there was an admission charge in previous years.

   Also, the person didn't think much of the stalls in the Mornflake Food Hall (Civic Hall). Had they had to queue on the Saturday they would have been annoyed as well as disappointed.

   They also had a complaint about the amount of wine given out per person in the wine tasting, but I don't know about that.

   How much did they expect for nothing?

Wilson Fine Art Auctioneers many yards away). This was in part due to a limit of 600 people in the hall at

any one time. As visitors exited through a side door of the hall, the message was relayed to the front door "Twenty people have left the hall; allow 20 more in".

   The final two days of an exhibition at Nantwich Museum, featuring the Polish Resettlement Camp at Doddington Park, near Nantwich, after the Second World

 

 

Fears that the safety fencing round the premises of Holland and Barrett, which collapsed a few days before the festival, might limit the number of people who could be accommodated on The Square proved to be unfounded when the contractors reduced its width by half in time for the event. But annoyingly the fence had gone all together by the Monday morning - the day after the event. Couldn't it have been cleared away earlier for a clutter-free Square?

Picture: Crowds on The Square weren't too bothered by the safety fencing in front of Holland and Barrett

This owl was part of the birds of prey display

The event was timely for the monthly

farmers' market

 

A welcome seating area for weary visitors outside St Mary's Parish Church

Posters glued to pavements around town guiding visitors

What a performance . . . having to have a safety escort on the stage I knew so well

I HAD to laugh to myself when I asked for permission to take the picture on the right, from the narrow permanent stage in the Civic Hall.

   I had to be escorted by a member of staff of Cheshire East Council who owned the hall.  

 

 

 

   I've lost count of the number of times I had been on the stage and its extended version while being backstage for productions staged by amateur dramatics group, the Nantwich Players.

   Constructing sets (stage scenery), putting up lights over the acting area, working in the darkened backstage area . . .

   But that made no difference here. All to do with Health and Safety, I suppose. In case I fell off the stage on to members of the public.

   In fact, I knew my way around blindfolded, and never fell off the stage once during a production.

    I should have been escorting the council employee, to keep him safe. And in a way, I was!

   The Civic Hall dance floor and the annexes were filled with stalls and visitors - many of whom had had to queue for quite a time (left). It was a case of so many being allowed in once a similar number had left

 

by another door - keeping the same number of visitors in the hall at any one time.

 

FOOTNOTE: Since this event took place, Nantwich Town Council acquired the Civic Hall, and other assets and facilities, from the borough council.  

   See here for an update.

 

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