Thursday, 07 July 2022

Food festival cancelled

Food festival cancelled

A FOOD festival in Henley was cancelled after the organiser said there was no appetite for it.

The two-week-long Eat! Food Festival was due to begin on Saturday with events at different venues around the town.

But Philippa Ratcliffe pulled the plug on the event, which began in 2019, because she says consumers’ eating out habits have changed.

She has now rebranded the festival as a Taste of Henley, which will take place next year and will
feature more experience-led events.   It will also incorporate the launch of a new awards scheme to promote the town’s food and drink scene.

Ms Ratcliffe, of New Street, Henley, told the Henley Standard: “Looking at the current market and how customers are behaving, we have decided to change it.

“There was not a lot of time to make this change so to establish it and for it to be the best it can be, we needed more than a couple of months.

“We want to have much more experiential events rather than having just a big event on one day.

“People are looking for an experience as well as food offerings. We also want to fly the flag for Henley and create something that generates interest in the town.

“It is about adapting and moving forward. There are already a lot of similar events around but we don’t want to be as general.

“People are also thinking more about how they want to spend their money and now want to get hands on and be more involved.

“People’s behaviour has changed since the lockdowns and covid and people are now feeling the pinch, so if we are going to treat ourselves we want to make it something special.”

Taste of Henley will take place over two weeks, from June 10 to June 25 and there will be other pop-up events at other times under the same banner, such as Henley Cocktail Week and regular food and drink tours,   

Ms Ratcliffe, who jointly runs The Terrace on Red Lion Lawn, said: “We will also be looking at incorporating the Taste of Henley Awards.

“This new exciting phase is in reaction to the burgeoning food and drink scene in Henley and wanting to support all our wonderful pubs, restaurants and eateries and to put Henley firmly on the foodie map. 

“We plan to market the event far and wide to add Taste of Henley as yet another great reason to come to Henley.”

The first Eat! Food Festival was held in 2019 with 16 events. It climaxed with a “riverside fiesta” on Mill Meadows with about 30 stalls selling food.

Ms Ratcliffe said: “We were thrilled with how many people embraced the event.

“It’s about championing Henley, supporting local business and producers and shouting from the rooftops how marvellous Henley is.”

The 2020 and 2021 events were cancelled due to the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic.

In March Ms Ratcliffe organised an event at Henley town hall as part of the Cook for Ukraine appeal.

It featured 10 businesses which set up food stalls and raised more than £5,500 for Unicef.

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