Cotswold Food and Farming Festival
- Credit: Archant
The farmers behind the brilliant Love My Cow beef are organising a gathering of all that’s great and good about local food
Like many lightbulb moments, Cotswold beef farmer Anna MacCurrach got the idea to run her own food and drink festival over morning coffee around the kitchen table.
“As I drove off to collect my children from nursery, the idea began to really take shape. As farmers and producers, we have been to a few food festivals now, both with our burgers and as visitors, and I began to wonder if it would be possible to do one that would genuinely represent local producers.
“We wanted to run an event that would be affordable for local producers to attend, and also one that would be free for the public to visit. I approached the team at the Cotswold Farm Park and chef Rob Rees, and before I knew it the ball was rolling.”
The Cotswold Food and Farming Festival launched in 2011 and it has grown year-on-year, with this month’s event expected to be the biggest and best yet.
Held at Bourton Vale Cricket Club in Bourton-on-the-Water, the one-day festival on September 15 is part of a major fundraising campaign to build a new pavilion at the club.
As well as Anna and her husband James’s award-winning Love My Cow beef products, local food producers attending include Bensons Totally Fruity, Dolcetti Ice Cream Co, Ross and Ross, Whale Ale, Relish the Taste Chutneys, Fair and Square Chocolate Brownies and the Fine Oil and Spice Company.
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Cream teas and hot and cold food will be available to buy at the event and the Cooking Demonstration Tent will feature two cooking demonstrations.
Farmer and TV presenter Adam Henson will be working alongside chef Jack Witcher from The Croft restaurant at Chester House Hotel in Bourton-on-the-Water. Together, they will be selecting local produce from the stalls around the site and then creating “something delicious with a Henson/Cotswold Farm Park twist”.
The second demonstration will be with Italian chef Mike Samoila, from the hotel’s L’Anatra Italian kitchen restaurant. He will be creating a dish using his favourite seafood ingredients demonstrating traditional Italian cooking methods.
In time-honoured fashion, children will be entertained with a bouncy castle and face painting, and there will be a dog show and live music from local bands Folklaw, No Parkin’ Blues Band and Deb Harris.
For those interested in the farming, The Vintage Tractor Company will have a number of vehicles on display and The Cotswold Farm Park will have their touch pens for children to meet the animals.
Anna says: “Local food festivals are a great springboard for new businesses, many of which start at the kitchen table with a priority being low overheads. They can be a great way of testing your products and getting noticed.
“We were pretty cautious with the first event, particularly with regard to hot food sellers. It can take a lot of time to for a producer to prepare for an event and it is so disappointing when you arrive and find lots of other people selling hot food - everyone goes away having had a bad day, instead of a few having a great one.
“We quickly realised that there was room for more – a big clue being the massive queues for food. We have also tried various ‘extras’ such as face painting, pottery painting and even Tractor Ted in attendance for the children.”
The success of the festival has also resulted in Anna opening her own farm shop, Toast the Cotswolds, which opened in July. The shop, which is run by her sister Rachel, already sells products from 50 local suppliers.
“Once word began to get out about the food festival I was getting a lot of interest from local producers and I began to realise just how many there are. At the same time I wasn’t always seeing them at farm shops and delis.
“Just after our third child was born, my husband suggested I open my own shop - it took me a few weeks to come around to the idea and then it was all hands to the grindstone to make it happen.
“We opened on July 5 and we are thrilled with the support we have received locally. There is still a long way to go but I have a great team in the shop, all of whom are equally as enthusiastic about selling local produce.”
Anna says the only slight hiccup has been that her own beef from Tagmoor Farm at Clapton-on-the-Hill has struggled to find space on the shelves.
“Ironically my husband has been one of the last to get his products to the shop. Apparently I didn’t give him enough notice regarding our planned opening day and we had to wait three weeks for the beef to come back.
“Of course, it’s important that the shop has the connection with the farm and LoveMyCow customers will always to be welcome to come to the farm but now we have the added flexibility of a shop with traditional opening hours.”
Cotswold Food and Farming Festival, Bourton Vale Cricket Club, Rissington Road, Bourton-on-the-Water, GL54 2AY. Sunday, September 15, 10.30am-4.30pm. Free entry. All day parking £2 (all proceeds to the cricket club pavilion fund).