Hundreds flock to Wokingham Food and Drink FestivalBy Lewis Rudd
September 02, 2009
Thousands of hungry revellers had their palates pampered when they visited the Wokingham Food and Drink Festival.
Foodies from across the borough and beyond descended on Elms Field in Elms Road for the two-and-a-half day lip-licking event.
The free festival, which ran from Friday to Sunday evening, contained local and high street chain exhibitors, entertainment and live music.
Visitors were able to sample and buy a number of conventional, continental and traditional cuisines, ranging from cupcakes to coriander and shallot chilli jelly and oysters to green olives and feta cheese.
Those with a sweet tooth were able to wrap their tongues around a selection of fudge and French pancakes while fans of real ale knocked back Ascot Ales and the Craft Brewery selection provided by Bracknell-based supermarket chain Waitrose.
Among the new additions was a 62-seater demonstration theatre where a number of local and regional chefs brought their unique tastes to the crowds.
Chefs included Neil Bardo from Miltons Restaurant at Cantley House Hotel and Orsola Musica, who gave a lesson in making homemade pasta.
In the neighbouring restaurant tent the team from The Redan in Peach Street wowed drink lovers with a display of cocktail making.
As the event, now in its third year, is aimed predominately at those with an eye for food and drink, those not so skilful in the kitchen used the festival and the glorious sunshine to relax with family and friends.
A number of local bands played the stage, including Red Means Go and 2009 Battle of the Bands winners Streetfight Silence.
Other acts included duo Coffee and Cream, the Wokingham Choral Society and Ben Portsmouth and his Taking Care of Elvis Band.
The stage, which is understood to have contained the sound system used on the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury earlier this year, also provided the perfect arena for salsa dancing.
Stan Hetherington, Kate Lole and Chris Monk took over the festival reins from former town centre manager Brian Newman, who left the position earlier this year.
Mr Hetherington said: “We don’t have a town centre manger so some of us who are involved in the [winter] carnival said something has got to be done because this is a great event.
“All the comments made to me today suggest this year has lived up to expectations – and we have also been lucky with the weather.
“The original intention was to promote a food and drink festival to bring people in to the town and get a feel for the town centre because this is one of the many parts of the jigsaw for the revamping of the town centre.
“Getting a good footfall in there is what it is all about.
“The turnout this weekend has been amazing. Friday night always comes with the worry that are people going to turn up and is aimed at the more younger audiences, but we had a cross section of people.
“It’s just been great fun. Kate, Chris and myself love seeing smiles on peoples faces, it’s just been brilliant.”
For more photographs of the festival see today's Wokingham Times.