Once again the Budleigh Local Food Festival was a resounding success. This is the third time the event has been held and it has become a much anticipated fixture in the town’s summer calendar. A fantastic fun foodie family weekend was had by all!
Building on the popularity of previous years and blessed with glorious summer weather - so early on - the event was a true community celebration of local food & drink producers and small businesses. The festival, organised by a local group of volunteers, headed up by Trudie Burne, aims to showcase the best of East Devon and of course the town of Budleigh Salterton.
From the opening of the festival at 10am the site was filled with crowds of Budleigh locals and visitors, keen to sample the wide array of treats on offer. More than 7000 people came out to join in the fun across the weekend! The crowds were spoilt for choice with mouth watering hot and cold foods on offer from the many local businesses. Street food stalls offered delicious fresh local produce, with a wide variety of wonderful dishes.
The festival also provided an ideal opportunity for visitors to stock up on locally produced cheeses, breads, cakes, vegetables and more. Shops on the High Street joined in to tempt the crowds with their special treats and offers, and of course the Tray Bake Trail had people going from cafe to shop sampling the cakes. The public vote winner of the trail was Fifty Degrees North Cafe on the sea front!
Children and families were well catered for with a range of craft activities, workshops and fabulous entertainment including the wonderful story telling by Clive Pig and Nutty Noah, who had even the dads crying with laughter. The kid's craft this year also featured mural artwork which will go on display in town as part of the BUDFAS Budding Creatives project, linking to this year’s book which will be published ready for the summer season, having been worked on by the local schools. A very popular addition to this year’s event was the Budleigh Carnival Club’s stand which gave everyone a chance to have fun with a human fruit machine! The organisers were delighted with the weekend’s success.
Live music was a big feature throughout the weekend with an acoustic stage in the Food & Drink market area and live music from 3pm in the marquee on the Green. The festival was proud to be supporting local up and coming talent with students from the Exeter Academy of Music and Sound performing, as well as many other acts including the delightful Jessica Rhodes who had crowds on the Green dancing in the afternoon sunlight!
Festival Manager Trudie Burne said: "The festival has become a true community event and a valuable showcase for local produce and small businesses. Its growing popularity shows a real public appetite for local and sustainable food and drink, and the free entertainment during the daytime is enjoyed by all generations. We are very proud to be a true festival for all ages, run by the community for the community."
During the weekend there were various competition and grand challenges held; the children enjoyed the Great Budleigh Bake Off Junior at the Methodist Hall, led by Zac Laverick from Otterton Mill and Sue Stoneman South West Home Cook of the year 2016. The prizes for the best bread went to Hannah Ralph from St Peter’s School in Budleigh with a mouth-watering entry, second prize went to Tom Pepperell and third to Olivia Stoner, a baker’s dozen entered the competition and the effort and enthusiasm from these junior bakers was terrific, it really was a very hard competition to judge. Hopefully the bakers will keep their new found skills and continue enjoying baking in their own homes from now on.
The ever popular food demos in the Public Hall were held over the two days featuring a long list of local chefs. Recipes and tips were shared during the question and answer sessions and of course lots of tasty morsels were tried as the cooked dishes were divided up for the audience to try too!
Our very own Budleigh Master Chef competition final featured two excellent home cooks. A nerve wracking 30 minutes of cooking then the judging saw Helen Griffin crowned the first ever Budleigh Master Chef with her winning dish of mussels and pan fried cod in a saffron sauce. Well done to Tom Garner who came second with his fabulous dish of local venison - it was a very close run competition. The audience really got behind the competitors and there was a very tense competitive feel to the event, but the contestants really came into their own and concentrated on producing their dishes. Helen’s elderly father had jumped straight on a plane to travel down from Mirfield Yorkshire just to see her in the final! He was delighted with her win!
The Afters Party concert Saturday evening was a sell out, with a fabulous atmosphere, amazing line up of musicians and a real summer party feel. The music line up was Vince Freeman, Wildwood Kin and Bloc off the Wall. The evening ended on a huge high, another fabulous addition to the food festival weekend programme!
Executive Chef Willi Rehbock and Trudie Burne Festival Director, said: “After two years of planning, it was fantastic to see so many of the area’s micro businesses join together to ensure the weekend was the success it deserved to be. The good weather meant many of our visitors were able to explore the whole of Budleigh in between enjoying the many events we organised. Our aim was to draw people into the area at a time when things can be quieter, to really show them everything we have to offer here in Budleigh and in East Devon. We cannot believe how many people came along!”
Festival visitors came from just down the road and from far and wide. The sun shone all weekend and the smiles on people’s faces were testament to the ethos, passion, quality and dedication behind the event, built up over the past 4 years by the festival team. Is it time to start planning for another one? Maybe after the team have had a well deserved rest!
The organisers would like to thank the hard working volunteers, stall holders, sponsors and supporters, but most of all the public who helped make the weekend be such a great success. More photos will be available on the festival website and Facebook page over the coming days and weeks.