Huge foodie event (and beer festival) returns to Bury St Edmunds for the August Bank Holiday
- Credit: Rachel Edge
Food lovers, now’s the time to build up an appetite and fish out those giant reusable shopping bags from the back of your cupboard – because one of the biggest events in Suffolk is back...and it means business.
August 29 and 30 should have been the 10th outing for the Our Bury St Edmunds Food & Drink Festival, but that anniversary has been shunted back to next year (no) thanks to a hiatus in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Entertainment, attractions and more food and drink than you could possibly fit in your tummy will fill the market town over the Bank Holiday as part of the free-to-enter extravaganza, which Mark Cordell, CEO of Our Bury St Edmunds BID, promises really will be bigger and better than ever.
“We are thrilled to be back this year celebrating everything the foodie capital of Suffolk has to offer. Hospitality has had such a tough time during the pandemic that showcasing our food and drink offering has never been more important.
“As ever we have lots planned, including a visit by characters from PAW Patrol across both days, which we know will delight younger visitors who’ve been enjoying PAW Patrol: The Movie during the summer holidays.”
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Despite the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions Mark wants to assure visitors that measures for safety are in place.
“We will provide additional seating this year in the Cookery Theatre, and stalls will be slightly more spaced out to enable the public to feel less crowded. We realise there are no longer Government regulations to follow regarding social distancing, but as a responsible organisation we want to encourage people to attend, confident the town centre will be as safe as possible.”
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Let’s take a look at what’s in store...
Stoves Cookery Theatre
A medley of celebrity and local chefs will be up on the stage in the town centre, in front of Moyse’s Hall Museum – where, if you haven’t been yet, there’s still time to see the Moments Exhibition, featuring the works of Banksy, Tracey Emin, Damian Hirst and others.
Former Coronation Street actor turned chef Sean Wilson will be up on stage cooking on Sunday, while Ready Steady Cook favourite and cheeky chappie Paul Rankin is firing up the hobs on Monday – both making three appearances each day. Between their slots will be appearances from celebrities on a local scale – chefs from some of Bury St Edmunds’ best-loved restaurants, including 1921, No.4 Restaurant and Bar, The Angel and Casa. There’ll also be wine tasting with Jake from Vino Gusto on Monday afternoon.
Shopping and eating
Around 50 food and drink stalls will sprawl across Buttermarket and the Cornhill over the two days, with offerings from all over the globe – from Brazilian and Mexican snacks, to Japanese and Greek delicacies to eat on the hoof, or take home. Drink offerings including beer, prosecco, gin and vodka.
For the family
Head for Charter Square where, as well as those aforementioned visits from PAW Patrol characters, there’ll be rides and fun. On Sunday, get to grips with circus skills. Or join in the giant games on Monday.
Learn something new
On Sunday, the historic Guildhall will be open with talks from food historian Dr Pat Murrell explaining the dos and don’ts of Georgian dining, and everything you need to know about herbs with Dr Sue Thompson.
Chat to producers
Angel Hill once again hosts the festival’s farmers’ market, with 20 stalls dedicated to hyper-local produce. It’s your chance to try a few samples, and meet the people behind the labels.
The list of stallholders here includes:
St Botolph’s Brewery: You can’t fail to be tickled by the fun, monk design on the bottles of these Colchester-made, Belgian style beers. There’s something for all palates in the range, from the coriander and fruit-heavy unfiltered Blonde Wheat, to the slightly spicy farmhouse-style Saison ale.
Yum Yum Tree Fudge: Freshly made, soft, melt-in-the-mouth confections made by this family business in their Bury St Edmunds-based fudge factory. The recipe is slightly lower in sugar than regular fudge, and they have a good range of sugar-free and dairy-free fudge too – all made with natural ingredients. It’s quite honestly so hard to choose as the variety of flavours is overwhelming (Irish Cream, Sea Salted Caramel, Alphoso Mango, Lemon Curd, Chocolate). If you get stuck you can’t go wrong with their classic Madagascan Vanilla – they recommend freezing it. And that really is a delicious tip.
Herbal Haven: As well as being handy in the kitchen, herbs are fantastic at bringing vital pollinators into the garden. You’ll find up to 150 varieties on this stall, all grown by people in the know, who can advise on uses and where to plant. From red creeping thyme (which gives excellent ground cover in rocky beds), to apple, chocolate or strawberry mint – they’ll ensure you’re spoilt for choice.
Nikki’s Homemade Jam: Not just jam, but jellies, marmalades, chutneys and preserves. Nikki’s handmade goodies have earnt her awards – including a coveted prize from the World Marmalade Awards. Stock up on Seville orange and brandy or mandarin versions of Paddington’s favourite treat, balsamic strawberry conserve, morello cherry jam, rhubarb and raspberry jam...the list goes on.
English Spirit Distillery: Launched 10 years ago, when small batch distilling was in its infancy in the UK, today this business has a dizzying array of vodkas, rums, gins and liqueurs to try. In fact, it was the first maker of English rum, which is crafted with 100% sugar cane molasses, triple distilled, and oak aged for smoothness. Also get your hands on chocolate chilli vodka liqueur, cucumber spirit, and limongino.
Cocoa Cave: Former military chef Aaron Kenny uses traceable chocolate and only the best natural ingredients to make his moulded bon bons and bars. The salted caramel hearts are gorgeous – melting in the mouth, while bars are flavoured with everything from charred orange (which he infuses for hours) to Yucatan flower honey.
Three cheers for cider and beers
Coinciding with the event is the 29th East Anglian Beer and Cider Festival, taking place within St Edmundsbury Cathedral from August 25 to 30. With around 200 real ales and 40 ciders to sample from the region and the rest of the UK, you might want to book a room for the night to make the most of it.
Tickets (from burystedmundsbeerfestival.com) start at £12, with entertainment planned for many of the sessions, including a star turn on Saturday night from a Beatles tribute act.
On Sunday, admission is free from 12noon.
Breweries such as Woodfordes, Brewshed and Mauldons will be there, and you can try the best of the best at the Champion Beers of Britain Bar, selling the summer 2019 and winter 2020 championship award-winning brews.
Any non-beer lover mates can tag along and head for the gin, Pimms and prosecco bar. Food will also be available.
For more information about the Our Bury St Edmunds Food & Drink Festival go to ourburystedmunds.com