Sunny weather brought a huge crowd of 16,500 people into Burnham-On-Sea’s town centre on Saturday (October 31st) for the town’s seventh Food and Drink Festival.
Over 100 traders offered tastings and samples of products, which ranged from local specialities like cider and cheese, to foreign cuisine and chocolates, alongside workshops, competitions and demonstrations.
Co-organiser Bev Milner Simonds told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “What an amazing day! We have received so much great feedback from so many people saying that the town’s car parks were full, the seafront was full, and so many people were wandering our town centre enjoying a day out in the sunshine.”
“We were blessed with glorious weather and we welcomed so many great food and drink producers into the town centre to showcase fantastic goods. It’s heartening that we are surrounded by such lush countryside here and are able to have so many grade-A products in the heart of our town. It’s really important to us to show Burnham off and I think the town did itself proud.”
Burnham’s MP James Heappey, who visited the festival for several hours, right, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “I do not know how the organisers, Bev and Sarah, do this. It’s quite extraordinary that on October 31st it’s been 20 degrees and yet again the Food Festival was bathed in the most glorious sunshine, bringing out thousands of people to buy ice creams rather than hot chocolate!”
“This is a great example of finding an appetite locally for celebrating all the great food and drink that is produced here in Somerset which draws visitors from far and wide. It’s exactly what we need to be doing here in Burnham, Somerset makes world-class food and drink and these food festivals are a real celebration of what we this county does so well.”
Burnham’s Mayor, Cllr Michael Clarke, added: “It’s been great to see another super festival here in Burnham. We were so lucky with the weather and it was great to see such huge crowds again.”
Burnham-On-Sea.com spoke to several of the visitors to get their thoughts on the event. Among them was Matt Scott, who said: “It’s fantastic to see so many people in the town – we always look forward to stocking up on the olives at this event.”
Jenny Franks added: “It’s always great to visit this festival. We love a walk to take a look at the local produce.”
Burnham’s former MP Tessa Munt, who was among the festival-goers, added: “It’s been a brilliant festival once again. It’s such a success story for Burnham that seems to grow every time. The weather made it such a magic day.”
Another visitor, Shannon Jenkins, added: “We always enjoy having a look around – the wide range of food and drink on show is just fantastic.”
Traders at the festival also gave positive feedback. Carl Stevens from Winnies Bakery told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “It’s been a fantastic festival for us with a very busy day of sales. We sold over 600 bakery items, which is a new single-day record for us at these kind of events!”
Alan Kidner from M and K Kidner Fruit and Veg added: “It’s been very busy festival – the weather was kind and the visitors really appreciate our local produce, particularly as there is no greengrocer here in Burnham any longer.”
Jonny Butler at Into Coffee added: “It’s great to see our home town so busy – I love the atmosphere during these festivals. It was a really busy day for us, people loved our coffee. Trade was busy all day.”
Somerset Charcuterie was awarded the title of ‘best in show’. Festival co-organiser Sara Milner Simonds said they were chosen “for being so hard working and having such amazing products.”
Alan Lyons, head of the Bath and West Show, and Sue Cox from sponsors Bakkavor, presented the award to owner James Simpson who said it was “a great honour to be chosen – we put in a lot of hard work to put together a stand that’s attractive with great products and it’s great to be recognised in this way!”
Among those demonstrating their talents at the KDS-sponsored cooking stage at the Baptist Church in College Street were Bini Ludlow, who runs her own Indian cookery school in Somerset, followed by previous Great Burnham Bake-Off winners Nigel and Pat Smith, who shared the secrets of their award-winning sourdough bread, and then Kate Gardiner, a chef from Purple Spoon. They drew highly positive feedback from the audiences through the day.