Festival goers enjoy ‘fantastic’ celebration of Suffolk food and drink
- Credit: Andy Abbott
People flocked in their thousands to a major Suffolk food event held over the last weekend in September – despite dire weather predictions.
Organisers of the 14th Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival, held at Snape Maltings on September 28 and 29, say they are "proud" that the not-for-profit event has helped put Suffolk on the food map of Europe with its rich "treasure trove" of specialist food and drink products, which are mainly made in the county or close to it.
Festival founder Caroline Cranbrook said several traders reported that their takings were well up on last year. Among them was Bungay dairy farmer Jonny Crickmore, who makes Baron Bigod cheese, who said sales were exceptionally good this year. "It was our best year. Every year we sell more cheese - it was incredible," he said.
MORE - Suffolk's 'natural larder' showcase vies with top food and drink festivals from Tuscany to ParisThis year's festival attracted about 8,500 visitors. Although this was down on previous years, the dip was unsurprising given the poor weather forecast - which proved wide of the mark.
"We had a fantastic Saturday but unfortunately visitors were put off on Sunday due to the forecasted weather which ended up being so much better than predicted," explained festival organiser Jess Brown.
"Although the weather put a slight dampener on things the festival still had an amazing atmosphere and was a true celebration of the Suffolk food and drink community."
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Lady Cranbrook said: "As always, the festival was a wonderful success. People weren't put off by the stormy forecasts and came in their thousands. And as always they were well rewarded by the extraordinary variety, quality and originality of the food and drink on offer.
"Everyone I spoke to said how much they enjoyed coming to the festival and appreciated its wonderful location and its cheerful, friendly atmosphere.
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"All in all I think the festival demonstrates what an abundance of good food there is in East Anglia, and above all in Suffolk. It also shows that there is a growing demand for good local food, which the festival and the traders have done so much to encourage."
It was "gratifying" that so many other Suffolk towns and villages had followed the festival's example and were holding their own food and drink festivals. "I think the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival has been very influential in influencing this trend," she said.
This is in turn had a significant impact on the local and regional economy, she added. In 2013, professional consultants estimated the economic benefit of the festival at around £1.2m. By 2018, that figure had risen to more than £2m.
The festival was intentionally focused on Suffolk, she said, with most of its 100 or so exhibitors from the county, with a handful from its neighbours in Cambridgeshire, Essex and Norfolk.