More than 30,000 head to Abergavenny Food Festival

Crowds gather in the Market Hall

Nia Davies, 11 months, enjoying her pasta

Marc Birch of Plenty with a tray of pies

A French onion seller

James Sommerin tells a fascinated crowd about cooking lobsters

Ken Jennings, left, and Wayne Sunders with meat from butchers NS James, of Raglan

First published in News South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

A BUMPER crowd attended this year's Abergavenny Food Festival which was bathed in September sunshine.

Whether you fancied fresh Welsh cakes, handmade scotch eggs, cider, whisky, pork, samosas, fresh lemonade, ice cream or raw chocolate pie, there was something for everyone, with more than 225 stalls across the town to tempt visitors.

In the Market Hall yesterday, visitors could witness demonstrations by the likes of Caerleon's own Michelin-starred James Sommerin, of the Crown at Whitebrook, who cooked lobster and discussed the evolution of food.

Ed Biggs, a partner in Monmouth's Kingstone Brewery who were selling nearby, said they had been very busy so far.

"I'd say it's comparable with last year," he said. "We've been coming for the last five years and this is our second time in the Market Hall. Lots of local people know we're here and we've been very busy."

Festival spokeswoman Cathy Green said it was too early to tell how many people had attended the Festival but that the town had been at capacity of at least 30,000 people on Saturday.

She said: "Sunday was busier than anticipated and we had the Party In The Castle last night with all 1,000 tickets sold out."

For younger festival-goers there was a chance to cook for themselves at the Food Academy, making dishes such as bara brith, no-bake cheese cake, Welsh sushi and lamb meatballs with handmade pasta.

By lunchtime the Brewery Yard was packed with hungry visitors and Raglan butchers N S James and Son, famed for their Welsh Faggots, were doing a roaring trade.

One customer, from London, pointed to a rack of bacon and said: "That's how bacon should be."

The triumph of the day came at St Mary's Priory Church where a queue of customers stretched out through the gate at lunch time, with visitors keen to try the homemade cream teas.

In total volunteers selling the cream teas raised £1,000 for the church.

The mayor of Abergavenny, Councillor Sam Dodd, described the atmosphere at this year's Food Festival as "fantastic".

"To see so many people in Abergavenny is really excellent," she said.

"Last year was that much colder and wet, so we've been very lucky this year, and I understand they have had their best pre-event ticket sales ever, across all events. The Festival brings the community of Abergavenny together and long may it continue."

Meanwhile the talks at this year's Festival took on a political tone, as both a pre-festival conference and a debate on Saturday discussed the future of the high street.

Plans to turn Abergavenny's livestock market into a supermarket is of particular concern locally after Monmouthshire council approved plans to demolish it last year.

THE grand final of the Food Festival's 'grow your own pizza' competition for secondary schools took place on this morning.

Not only did students have to come up with a unique Welsh take on a pizza, they had to grow as many ingredients as possible. Chef Cyrus Todiwala, a regular on BBC's Saturday Kitchen, crowned Monmouth Comprehensive as the winning team.

 

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