As far as Welsh food festivals go there’s a new kid on the block. The first annual Newport Food Festival was launched on 29 October 2011 and if you did not attend, you missed a great day out.
The festival was not just about the food, it was about the community as well; with local schools and businesses involved. Children, from local schools, competed in a cookery competition and local restaurants were invited to offer special festival menus, during the festival period.
The food festival took place in 3 main locations throughout Newport City Centre: the Indoor Market, the central pedestrian shopping precinct and The Riverfront Theatre.
The market was a great choice of venue as the regular market stalls were open that day, introducing festival goers to the fine range of quality produce that is sold from within. Stephen Terry, chef/owner of The Hardwick nr. Abergavenny, did a quick cookery demo at the market’s fishmonger, picking up his fresh veg for the demo at one of the market stalls on his way over and choosing his fish from the fresh fish on display that day.
Outside, stalls lined the street of the shopping precinct giving a chance for Newport city shoppers to take advantage of the food festival whilst doing their shopping. The precinct could have physically accommodated a lot more stalls, but I imagine with the longer established and much better known Cowbridge Food Festival taking place on the same day, many producers had signed up to go there.
As well as the stalls there were also cookery demos featuring some of Wales top chefs, e.g. the aforementioned Stephen Terry, Hywel Jones from Michelin starred Lucknam Park, The Crown at Whitebrook’s James Sommerin, as well as some of Newport’s finest chefs. These were held in both the Indoor Market and the Riverfront Theatre. There was also a wide choice of cooking classes for children. All this was very well received, as one of the festival goers stated, “Every time the tide comes in we lose a bit of the city – until today".
This festival can only go from strength to strength and with the organisers pledge that they will ensure that next year’s festival does not clash with Cowbridge, they will be able to attract even more producers. Keep your eye on http://www.newportfoodfestival.co.uk/blog/ or follow them on twitter @NewportFoodFest