Is it me, or has there been a massive explosion of food festivals over the last five years or so? At this time of year, and over the next few months, there will be food festivals all over the country as we celebrate the best of British food. I have to say, I don’t think this is a bad thing.
Clitheroe Food Festival has become huge. It’s not a few stalls in a field: the whole town gets into the event. It happens on the second weekend in August, and attracts visitors from all over the North West. The organisers seem to prioritise showcasing food from the area, and there’s a mixture of entertainment and demonstrations as well as the food stalls. Of course, there are several drinks stalls, including the Bowland Brewery Bus, as well!
I went into Clitheroe Food Festival on Saturday afternoon to have a wander around. The organisers say that 20,000 people visit the food festival each year, and it was certainly very busy!
If you don’t know Clitheroe, it’s well worth a visit. It’s a small market town in the Ribble Valley. The town itself is compact and interesting, with a 12th Century castle looking down on the main shopping streets. It has several independent shops and cafes, and I still believe you can find almost anything in Dawsons Department Store. It also has a proper market on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays which is popular.
The Food Festival is the biggest of several weekend events throughout the year, including a Jazz Festival. From 9am until 4.30pm, the main streets are closed to traffic and vans, stalls and pop up shops appear. There’s also live music and just a brilliant atmosphere.
It is a family-friendly event, particularly up around the castle, where lots of children run around on the grass. There were also several cookery classes for kids this year. That said, by 3pm there were a few tired toddlers confined to their pushchairs while their parents wandered around!
The most popular stalls definitely seemed to be those which involved cooking with fire. The pizza stall with the wood-fired oven had a really big queue, and the queue for the barbecued chicken went halfway down the street.
Hints and Tips for Visiting Clitheroe Food Festival
Don’t try to drive into the town! There’s a park and ride service available, or buses and trains are running all day. It’s much easier than finding parking.
Have cash on you – stalls don’t tend to take cards, and there are only a few cash points in town.
Book onto any tastings or demonstrations well in advance. They always sell out.
Go hungry and enjoy your food! (Even the kippers.)