Launch of the first Waveney Valley Food and Drink Festival

SOME of the finest produce from across the Waveney Valley will be celebrated next month as a new food and drink festival is launched.

The Waveney Valley Food and Drink Festival will showcase a broad variety of produce from across the region in the historic setting of Bungay Castle.

Fine foods and drink will be on display, while local chefs show off their skills and give advice with demonstrations on Saturday, October 6 and Sunday, October 7.

The festival is part of a Waveney Valley partnership to promote the towns of Beccles, Bungay, Loddon, Halesworth, Eye, Diss and Harleston.

Ben Potterton, chairman of the Waveney Valley Tourism Forum, said: 'It is very easy to forget what goes on around you. The aim of the group is to look at our local area, support local businesses and identify our strengths, and we know food is one of our strengths.

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'We are looking to promote both sides of the river, we are not bothered if its Norfolk or Suffolk, we are working together to increase spend in local businesses.'

Waveney Valley Tourism Project Officer Madeleine Coupe said that one of the aspects that make the area special is the amount of food and drink producers, and that the festival will help to promote this and will in future be held across the other locations.

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'Everyone has been great. They've been keen to get involved and so supportive, it should be a really fantastic weekend,' she said.

The project has been funded by the Rural Development Fund for England (RDPE) and this event will bring together producers including micro-brewery Grain Brewery, chocolatiers Just Truffles and cheese makers Fielding Cottage.

Among the chefs putting on demonstrations in the creative kitchen will be Mark Hougham, of the Castle Inn, Bungay.

Mr Hougham said it was great news for the town to be chosen as the first to host the festival and said there was a wonderful range of suppliers in the local area, with 25 for his restaurant alone.

'If we keep using local produce the local economy will benefit. It is something I am passionate about as I don't like to see local producers going under,' he said.

Robert Oberhoffer, of The Dove, Alburgh, said he would be showing how people can choose convenience food but make it healthy.

He added that he thought it was a great initiative to bring together north Suffolk and south Norfolk, and it was good that it was being held where children could also enjoy the day.

The Waveney Valley Partnership was created by Mid Suffolk, South Norfolk and Waveney District Councils to help create a new identify for the area.

Bruce Provan, Waveney district council cabinet member for tourism, said: 'The Waveney Valley Food and Drink Festival provides the perfect platform to celebrate and promote the wonderful local food and drink produce that the valley has to offer.

'From free range pork, to local wines and from welcoming pubs to fine dining restaurants the Waveney Valley has something for everyone.'

Martin Wilby, deputy leader at South Norfolk council, said: 'I urge as many people as possible to go along because it will be wonderful and because success this year will mean a much bigger festival next year spread across many more Waveney Valley communities.'

Mid Suffolk tourism officer Helen Cutting said: 'This is an excellent example of tourism businesses and food producers working together to promote this often unexplored area of Suffolk and Norfolk and to showcase some of the wonderful produce available locally.'

The event will be held on Saturday, October 6 and Sunday, October 7 and runs from 10am to 3.30pm. It is free to attend.

There will also be a number of fringe events taking place at different venues across the valley from the Friday, October 5 to Monday, October 8.. Activities include the Bungay Real Ale Trail, a celebration of Waveney Valley apples and pears at the Earsham Street Caf�, Bungay, and a beer festival at the Kings Head, Bungay.

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