Norfolk Food Festival plans to spread the word about top local produce

As organisers launch the 2011 EDP Bidwells Norfolk Food Festival event today, they say their aim is to make it a destination festival which will show off our top-class produce to a much wider audience.

It is already the country's largest food festival, with more than 1,000 events showing off the best food and drink Norfolk has to offer.

But despite its ever-increasing popularity, the EDP Bidwells Norfolk Food Festival remains a well-kept secret outside of this county.

Now, as organisers launch the 2011 event today, they say their aim is to make it a destination festival which will show off our top-class produce to a much wider audience.

Last year the attraction, which began seven years ago, became a month-long spectacular.

From the Moveable Feast in aid of Parkinson's UK to the Big Norfolk Food Debate held at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, it involved 300 companies and stretched right across the county.

'It is already the biggest and best food festival in the country,' said chairman Richard Woolliams, who said the festival had now been set up as a not-for-profit company.

Most Read

'But we only know that in this county. We want to promote it across the country and encourage people to come to Norfolk to visit during the five weekends of events we've got planned.'

Although hundreds of dinners, debates and delicious activities will take place throughout the month, the festival – which will run from Friday, September 2, until Sunday October 2 – will be focused around five main events aimed at drawing in tourists from across the UK.

Intended to show the diverse range of food and drink found around Norfolk, they will take place on successive weekends, kicking off with the North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival at Holkham Hall on September 3 and 4.

That event, which will take place for the second time this year, is already expanding with an estimated 60 stallholders set to show their wares in the stately home's stunning courtyard.

The following weekend – September 10 and 11 – will see Norwich city centre host a number of events including a food fair, city farm and the popular Battle of the Bangers contest.

Then on September 17 and 18 a new event will celebrate the best of West Norfolk and Breckland's bounty.

Organised by Strattons Hotel director Vanessa Scott, the weekend will be based in Swaffham and will include a series of fun events like chicken racing and cooking competitions on the Saturday and a large food and cookery fair in the market place on Sunday.

Mrs Scott said the area was brimming with produce from game to asparagus and wild indigenous fruits. She added: 'We've got a great larder out there and we want to celebrate those foods.

'They haven't been appreciated the way they should be. The problem is we haven't really crowed about it enough but we really hope to do that at this festival.'

The weekend of September 24 and 25 will see festival organisers and Produced In Norfolk encouraging visitors to get out and explore the area's many farmers' markets and farm shops, with a number of PIN members holding special open farm and taster events.

And the festival finale, on October 1 and 2, will once again be the annual Aylsham Food Festival which will showcase the town's 'slow food' philosophy.

Mr Woolliams said: 'There is a different flavour to each of those weekends so there should be something that appeals to everyone.'

Other events already confirmed include the annual Tallest Jelly Competition and the new Great Norfolk Taste Test, which will run through the summer and during the festival, giving people the chance to pit local produce against the rest of the UK's food and drink.

Organisers want to ensure there are many more events and activities for local people and visitors to explore as part of the month-long celebration and are calling on Norfolk's producers, hotels, restaurants and pubs to get involved.

Mr Wooliams said he wanted even more events this year: 'We do this to promote Norfolk, Norfolk produce and the talent we have in the county. Every year it gets bigger and better.'

To get involved:

Visit the website at www.norfolkfoodfestival.co.uk.

Contact Deborah Watson at Lexia Media on 07974 359001 or by emailing Deborah@lexiamedia.co.uk.

Or come along to the food hall at the Royal Norfolk Show this month to speak to festival organisers who will be kicking off the Great Norfolk Taste Test.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter