Monday, 21 August 2017

New food and drink festival to start in autumn

A NEW food festival will take place in Henley in the autumn.

The Henley Food and Drink Festival will showcase about 30 suppliers in a marquee in Falaise Square and another dozen or so at King’s Arms Barn, off King’s Road.

Participants must be based no more than 30 miles from Henley, although many will come from much nearer and will include producers of cheese, bread, beer, wine, meats and vegetables.

It is hoped that some pubs and restaurants in Henley and surrounding villages will have stalls while others will support the festival by hosting events at their own premises.

There will be a programme of tastings and demonstrations at Henley town hall and there could also be workshops and talks for children.

The festival, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday, September 16 and 17, has agreed charity partnerships with the Alexander Devine children’s hospice in Maidenhead, whose volunteers will hold a bucket collection on the Saturday, and the Thames Valley Air Ambulance.

There will also be a fund-raising supper with five courses prepared by different chefs, which will be hosted by TV presenter and antiques expert Jonty Hearnden.

The festival is being organised by Kathryn Fell, a photographer from Sonning Common, and Tracey Pryce, from Stoke Row, who owns event management firm White Fox Events.

Their patrons are Ryan Simpson and Liam Trotman, who run Orwells restaurant in Shiplake Row.

Mrs Fell, who used to work in food marketing, said: “It’s going really well. A lot of people have signed up and there aren’t many spaces left, which is a promising sign.

“We’re trying to get as broad a variety of exhibitors as possible and the spaces at King’s Arms Barn will be more affordable so that smaller businesses are able to take part.

“The festival is to support independent traders by giving them a chance to get their products and services under the noses of Henley people.

“Hopefully, they will build their profile and attract some customers who will visit all-year round, which isn’t easy if you don’t have your own shop unit.

“The town council has been very supportive and it should bring a lot of extra footfall so all the businesses should benefit.

“We want the festival to become an annual event and hope to make it bigger and better every year but we have to start small and get the first year behind us before we can start to expand. We have a lot of ideas.

“I’m a massive foodie so I was delighted when Tracey invited me to become a joint director. It’s great to work with a fellow business person and I think this is going to be an exciting addition to Henley’s festivals calendar.”

The festival was originally going to take place in May last year but the date was changed because Henley-on-Food, another new event, launched at Shiplake College the week before.

It was moved back a month but the new date then clashed with the Henley Highwayman duathlon, which starts and finishes in Falaise Square.

Mrs Pryce then said she wanted to give herself enough time to reorganise it.

Henley-on-Food is not taking place this year.

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