The first ingredients for this summer’s Eden Food & Farming Festival went into the pot this week. Penrith shopkeeper Greg Forbes from Smoked was the first to grab a stall at Penrith on a Plate, with VistaVeg the first to confirm a mid-week festival event.
With booking now open for stalls at Penrith on a Plate, the festival organisers are going the extra mile this year to encourage the town’s traders to capitalise on the event.
“We’ve been visiting restaurants, cafes and other food outlets in the town to invite them to get involved in Penrith on a Plate and get their share of the trade that the event will generate,” said Peter Ward, chair of Penrith Partnership, which organises the annual festival. “There’ll be several thousand people in the town, and we’d encourage food outlets to think about how they can reap the benefits of that extra footfall and consider what they can do to attract business to them.”
One option is for traders to have a stall or hot-food concession, with no pitch fee for town-centre businesses that are members of Penrith Business Improvement District. Greg Forbes from Smoked was among those who took a stall last year and virtually sold out of product.
“I got in quickly to ask for a stall this year because I had such a strong day’s trade before,” Greg said. “I trebled what I’d normally take in the shop on a Saturday and had almost nothing left at the end of the day. In fact, I had to go into work the following day and smoke more products so that I’d have something to sell on the Monday morning!”
Although Greg’s shop is in the town centre, it’s slightly off the beaten track on Burrowgate and he felt the festival footfall wouldn’t be as high as there, so he decided to take his products to the people.
“Being seen at Penrith on a Plate also had a big knock-on effect for me,” Greg said. “It increased my trade in the long run because people who didn’t know about Smoked started coming into the shop afterwards.”
Lynn Barnes from VistaVeg found that taking part in the festival last year gave her business a boost, too.
“We held a drop-in day at our polytunnel site at Crosby Ravensworth and it was great to open the gates to the general public so they could come and see what we’re growing and what we do,” Lynn said. “Through the festival marketing, we reached different people than we would have on our own and we got some new customers for our veg-bag scheme.”
Peter encouraged anyone in the food trade in Eden to get in touch if they want to participate in the festival in any way.
“There are lots of ways we can help businesses to promote themselves and bring in some extra trade, and we’re open to any ideas that people have,” Peter said. “They could take a stall at Penrith on a Plate, run a demonstration, or rove around giving out samples of their food and perhaps a discount voucher to attract people in. Producers could host a visit to their premises as one of the festival events or run a talk or demonstration at some point during festival week.”
Penrith Partnership is also keen to hear from all types of businesses willing to help the community-run festival in any way, in return for publicity.
“To put on and promote the festival, we need everything from printing and timber to compost and wheelbarrows, so if your firm thinks they might have something to offer us at a reduced rate or free, please get in touch,” Peter said.
Eden Food & Farming Festival starts with Penrith on a Plate on Saturday 18 July and ends with Penrith Show the following weekend. Book a stall online or to contact us on 017683 51699.