Glorious food, perishing weather and big crowds….
The chill wind and unfriendly weather didn’t stop huge numbers of people flocking into Malton for the Food Lovers Festival. It was terrific to see the market place crammed with elegant stalls, purveying cheeses, chutneys, vegetables, jams, Italian and English sausages, honey, olive oil, herbs, bread, meats, cakes, patisserie and moreàwith helpful, friendly, stallholders.
Cookery demonstrations and masterclasses were extremely popular, particularly Antonio Carluccio’s conversations with Selina Scott and his book signings, with long queues of patient fans.
Efficient as always, Jan organised an army of volunteers in smart lime green aprons with CIC name badges: they were the Festival stewards, to guide, to inform and to make everyone feel welcome û which they did with marked success.
The Festival is run by the CIC (Malton Community Interest Company), a not-for-profit company set up to support community projects for Malton and Norton, including providing all the market place free parking. The CIC has won the Action for Market Towns Business and Economy Award for its innovative approach in creating Food Lovers Markets: the aim is that these should become monthly from next year. The judges noted how æMalton is developing a reputation for foodie events.’
Our Food Lovers Festival, now in its fourth year, is expensive to put on and in 2011 it made a net loss of ú54,000. The CIC had to look at ways of making it sustainable for the future, as well as ensuring that it did not prejudice the availability of grants for other community projects.
This led to the introduction of Festival wristbands for sale so that every visitor might make a contribution. It could have been a sensitive issue since the market place is a public space which anyone may properly enter, even if access to cookery demonstrations and masterclass tents could fairly be restricted. Most visitors got the point and happily bought a wristband, giving them entry to all the tents, plus a Festival shopping bag and Schedule of Events. The volunteers at entry points were responsive to visitors’ views and no attempt was made to coerce anyone who had reasons for not wishing to pay.
The Food Lovers Festival, so ably run by Tom Naylor-Leyland and his team, is already being described as æa leading food festival.’ The purpose of promoting Malton as a foodie destination through the Festival and the Markets is to build the local economy by getting more and more people into town on a regular basis. On the evidence of last weekend, it certainly seems to be working.
As Tom says, æMalton has so much to offer.’ Hear, hear!