To meet and find out more about your local food is absolutely essential for any food writer. Local food festivals is one of the places where you meet people and get new opportunities. Aside from being fun it's one of the most important ways to create links and get yourself known to the people in the thick of food, and I’ve literally just got in from The East Midlands Food Festival. I had just 2 hours to look around and meet people and I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks. Now I find myself, not blogging about he superb food as I expected, but blogging about it as fast as I can to warn anyone and everyone who, is visiting. Take CASH. Take Wellies.
Yes I know today was about getting writing opportunities ..but I set out this morning with, not one but two baskets and intentions of seriously denting the credit in my account along the way! I cautioned myself along the way. Be sensible. Don’t spend too much. But you know how it is when you’ve been looking forward to something for ages. I went with serious food acquirement intent.
But I’ve come home practically empty-handed. And covered in mud and cow .. well .. .. poo. The parking was horrendous. This was not the glamourous life of a food writer I had expected !
There was no signal. No debit or credit card could be used and there was no cash point. I queued for 25 minutes to pay to get in and still there was no signal and the card machines didn’t work. A woman came out to apologise. But that was the sum total of her use. In the end I resorted to borrowing my 8-year-old daughters pocket money to get in. It was only £6 entry. This left me just £4 to spend!
I did not leave empty handed, I might say, through lack seriously great food being available. On the contrary. There were the most beautiful cupcakes, delicious bison meat, superb local sausages ostrich burgers, and delightful local cheese from Leicester, chutneys jams and cheese, divine chocolate. I also got to meet the editor of Great Food Leicestershire and Rutland, Matthew Wright. Fortunately as I explained what I do and the lack of cash Matthew gave me a magazine.
My daughter bought a pancake with the £4 that was left. It was all the more delicious for being the only thing we ate!
Typically of me on the way out I spotted a well-presented slightly older chap in a high viz. Ah ha ! …. Someone to complain to. It turned out that he was just he very person to complain to; Matthew O'Callaghan - The chairman of the East Midlands Food Festival. After I ranted about cow doo, lack of purchases and a not very pretty entrance .. (see the photo of the entrance - arriving to the sight of 4 portaloos this was hardly the beautiful stately home in the promotional shots!!)
That said, he was good enough to give me a minute on the Audioboo. He explained that the venue allowed them to bring the entry price down from £8.50 to £6. Which is a fair point, after all the lower price had facilitated my entry by borrowing pocket money!
He also apologised for the lack of card facilities. They had put in a signal booster, that didn’t work. My advice? Put a large notice at the front of the website BRING CASH. WEAR WELLIES. That would manage my expectations and I would have had nothing to complain about, at all.
But the food was good. Really good.
THE ENTRANCE .. past the portaloos .. mmm nice !