Four local organisations have added the vital ingredient to this summer’s Eden Food and Farming Festival – the all-important funding to run this popular week-long programme of events.
Eden District Council, Penrith Town Council, Penrith Business Improvement District and the Pride in Penrith Lottery have confirmed their backing for the popular festival, which is one of the main town-centre events each year.
Penrith Chamber of Trade takes over from Penrith Partnership as the festival organiser for 2017, supported by Totally Locally Penrith, with local firm Eden Lighthouse once again providing event management and marketing services.
“As a free festival for local communities and visitors to enjoy, it wouldn’t be possible to run it without the support of our funders,” said Heidi Marshall, president of Penrith Chamber of Trade. “Their continued backing of the festival is a testimony to the hard work that Penrith Partnership has put into it over the past four years, developing it into a firm fixture on Eden’s calendar of events. We’re relishing the challenge of dishing out a fantastic week of events this year, starting with the main course, Penrith on a Plate, on 15 July.”
Penrith on a Plate sees the town centre transformed into a bumper artisan food and crafts marketplace, complete with music, entertainment and activities for food lovers and families. It’s complemented by an assortment of food and farming events around Eden, leading up to the farming highlight of the year, Penrith Show, on 23 July.
“What better way to mark the start of the summer than a free festival for residents to enjoy,” said Yvonne Burrows, economic development support officer at Eden District Council. “It also supports the work we do to promote the area as a tourist destination nationally.”
Penrith Town Council Clerk Viv Tunnadine added: “Supporting events like Penrith on a Plate is a priority for us, because they benefit the town in so many ways. We’re glad to be able to give a helping hand to the local organisations who work hard to put on free town-centre events like this one.”
Penrith Business Improvement District has continued its support for the festival due to the power of events to bring people into town and boost trade.
“We see events as a major support to the local economy,” said BID chair Dan Harding. “Our members, who are businesses and other organisations in the town centre, benefit directly from the extra visitors the festival attracts, and indirectly through the publicity the town gains from all the promotion that goes into the festival.”
The Pride in Penrith Lottery has also been a long-term supporter of the Eden Food and Farming Festival.
“Our members take part in the lottery because they want to support their community, and the festival does exactly that,” said Rob Udale, the lottery chair. “With Penrith on a Plate and most of the other events being free, the whole community can come together to enjoy them. We hope everyone gets it in their diary and comes out to enjoy it. Bon appetit!”
The festival organisers are encouraging everyone to sign up to the festival newsletter and register for Penrith on a Plate, to be first to hear details about all the events being planned for festival week.
“We’ll have a limited number of places at most of the events during the week, so it’s a good idea to be on the email list to get first dibs on booking,” Heidi said. “Anyone who signs up for the festival newsletter or registers for Penrith on a Plate will also be entered into a draw to win a hamper of delicious local foods worth £50. Visit the festival website at www.edenfoodfestival.org to join the list.”
Great news... the date for Penrith on a Plate 2017 has been confirmed. Eden's tastiest festival returns on Saturday 15 July 2017.
Penrith Show is the week after, on Saturday 22 July.
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An exhibition delving into the long history of beer making in Penrith will open next Wednesday, 13 July, as part of the Eden Food and Farming Festival.
The display has been created by Penrith Partnership, the festival organiser, based on research by Janice Wrench from the Friends of Penrith and Eden Museum.
“I heard Janice tell the fascinating story of beer brewing and pubs in Penrith earlier this year when she gave a talk to a local group,” said Peter Ward, chair of Penrith Partnership. “One of the aims of the festival is to help people learn about where their food comes from and so turning the talk into an exhibition seemed like a fantastic way for festival-goers to find out about our food and drink heritage,” Peter said. “I think most people will be surprised by how many pubs and breweries we once had in Penrith and the integral role they had in the life of the town.”
Janice, a former librarian and a graduate of the University of Lancaster’s MA in Lake District Studies, began her research after chancing upon a file in the Penrith and Eden Museum.
“I was helping to organise some old files when I came across one with information about local breweries and I got very interested in it,” Janice said. It inspired her to find out more, delving into old records at the Carlisle Archive Centre and archive copies of the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald and Penrith Observer, as well as directories and other local history material in the library and online and research material published by the Brewery History Society.
“Brewing beer was originally a household activity that women took charge of, and they sold their excess beer in the market,” Janice said. “As beer consumption grew, the women began producing more and selling it from their homes, which became the first inns. They were known as ‘ale wives’ or ‘brewsters’.”
This tradition continued in Penrith with the role of women in brewery management and as innkeepers.
“Penrith has had a thriving market since the 13th century, becoming a focus for the buying and selling of the produce of field and fell,” Janice said. “Its location surrounded by farmland and its strategic position as a crossroads have been crucial elements in its development as a town. It’s possible that produce stalls were located even earlier in the area around St Andrew’s Church.”
From the 18th century, brewing became closely linked with Penrith’s growth as a market town. Janice’s research also charted the boom years for brewing in the town in the mid 1800s, spurred on by a change in government policy.
“In 1830 the government reduced the cost of a licence to sell beer, in an attempt to curb the amount of gin that people were drinking,” Janice said. “By the 1850s, Penrith had one pub for every 72 residents – a far higher proportion than in much larger towns at the time. One of the most interesting displays in the exhibition is a map of Penrith at that time, produced by Ron Dearden in the 1980s, showing all the pubs and breweries.”
Penrith’s modern-day pubs and retailers will be welcoming visitors next Saturday at the Penrith on a Plate food festival day in the town centre.
“Although none of the breweries that thrived in Penrith in the 1800s has survived today, we’re lucky in Eden and the wider area to have a diverse range of drinks producers, making craft beers, ciders, spirits, wines and juices,” Peter said.
The exhibition is hosted by Zolena’s Café in Penrith, and can be visited at any time during their normal opening hours from Wednesday 13 to Saturday 23 July. Local groups can also arrange to hear Janice’s talk by contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Penrith on a Plate will serve up a bumper 50 stalls this year and features the town’s new Gifted Eden Artisan Market for the first time. The festival continues with a free tour at Askham Hall’s edible gardens and animal trails on Wednesday 20 July and places can be booked via our website. On Sundays 17 and 24 July, there’s a chance to enjoy a homemade Cumbrian farmer’s brunch at Maulds Meaburn Village Institute as part of the festival.
The festival is funded by Penrith Town Council, Eden District Council, Penrith Business Improvement District (BID), Pride in Penrith Lottery and Newton Rigg College, with support from DiscoverPenrith.co.uk, Burnetts Solicitors, Vista Veg, the Rotary Club of Penrith and Penrith Posters.
Grab your free place on our tour around the gardens at the award-winning Askham Hall restaurant, cafe and spa hotel.
You'll be treated to a tour of the edible gardens, with a chance to see the vegetable patches where produce is grown for the kitchens.
The Grade II listed gardens are full of stunning features, including colourful terraces, a 230ft long double herbaceous border, unusual species of plants, formal lawns, kitchen gardens, woodland, meadows and ponds. Take in the views down to the River Lowther and enjoy the secluded spots of the garden.
Get even closer to nature with the Askham animal trails. Along the family-friendly route there is the chance to see shorthorn cattle, rare-breed pigs, boer goats, ducks and chickens. For the eagle-eyed, the surrounding area is also a haven for red squirrels, rabbits, badgers and pheasants.
Wednesday 20 July, 2pm
It's first come first served and with just 25 places on offer, don't delay... book now!
The organising committee would like to thank Penrith Business Improvement District and the Pride of Penrith Lottery for committing to provide grants for this year's Penrith on a Plate.