Held for the second time at Thame Showground – an expansion from its previous town centre location – Thame Food Festival comes to life on the 29th and 30th September.
With demonstrations, masterclasses, workshops, and more food than one person could possibly hope to sample over one weekend, Jack Rayner spoke to festival director Lotte Duncan to find out more.
How did this all come about – for a local food festival, this has gotten rather large, hasn’t it?
It has, yes! When we started, 11 years ago, there were only a few other places that did similar things. Now local food festivals are a massive thing, especially over the last couple of years. When we started, the festival was basically just a few stalls around the town hall, and then the next year there was a few more. Last year, we made the decision to move from the town centre to Thame Showground, because the event had just become too large and we wanted to make sure that the festival was sustainable. That year was a lot of trial and error, but we've learnt lots and this year we’re taking it onto an even bigger scale, with lots more going on. It is becoming an enormous food festival and a great responsibility."
What are you particularly looking forward to this year?
What I always look forward to most is just seeing the visitors enjoy themselves and the stallholders making money and being able to sell their produce. Some of the stallholders even make the food on their kitchen tables – they're tiny companies so it’s great to be able to look after them. This year, we started a Food Bursary, which supports an artisan producer for a year, through mentorship, financial support, and help with social media, advertising and marketing. This is our way of giving back to the community.
Who are your favourite exhibitors this year?
It’s impossible to choose! We have so many – about 150, from the most amazing breads to the most fantastic cheeses and gorgeous charcuterie, lovely cakes and amazing fudge. We've got beers, wines, cider and lots of lovely gin. Personally, I could fill the whole show with gin, but I eventually have to say no because we're only allowed a certain amount, otherwise it gets ridiculous! Then, we have some fantastic spices, sauces and tea. There's honestly so much. We have a music stage, a pop up pub, a gin garden... There are plenty of places to sit to listen to music and have a drink. We've then got all the sponsor stalls in there as well, who are doing demonstrations and giveaways. On top of all this, we’ve got our famous chefs and bakers doing demonstrations every half an hour. It doesn’t stop!
How will Thame Food Festival grow in the future?
We’ll just keep going. Our visitors have a fantastic time, so they come back the next year, then we get more producers who want to come, and we can further expand. We want to make sure that the festival is an event people mark in their diaries every year.