Often I’m working away on site when there are launch parties & get togethers that I’d like to attend, not out of some grandiose level of self importance, but because it’s always good to promote a product or event based on the information I have rather than something that a PR firm is trying to spoon feed me. Last Monday night I was at a loose end in the Cardiff area so I messaged a fellow blogger about meeting up for a chin wag, the blogger in question; Mark Adams from Corpulentcapers.com . Mark, or Gomez as I believe he also answers to, contributed to the initial food festival calendar in January by donating his list of Welsh food festivals to get the ball rolling, then it really that snowballed out of control. We exchanged messages throughout the Monday morning and Mark got me on the guest list for the launch of Newport Food Festival 2012.
Now I’ve been to one or two of these events before, you’re schmoozed and plied with free booze in the hope that you’ll write something nice after the event launch. The organisers of this event took a very different stance, yes there was the usual presentation, reflecting on the previous years event which had been a steep learning curve & the planned urban regeneration of Newport. But this year the event has been moved, so not to coincide with the Cowbridge festival (which after Abergavenny, is probably one of the highest attended locally). A broad spectrum of people were invited to voice opinions: Artisan producers; bloggers; restaurateurs and local dignitaries. Michelin starred chef Hywel Jones from Lucknam Park, himself a Newport native even popped in to say a few words.
Amongst the mini poppadoms, various sauces & cutlery was a plethora of post it note pads and pens. The host of the evening pointed out that they were looking for ideas in taking the event forward, just at some point I was expecting the phrase <blue sky thinking> to come along but it didn’t, not even when the PR guy from 10fourPR stood up to talk. I started to take notes, principally with the aim of writing this post, to be honest. But the ideas just seem to flow, the idea that came from our little group was the idea of following up a supplier. Picture the scene, you go to a well organised & supported food festival, try new & artisan products from small producers, get home & you’ve lost their leaflet or card. The chances are that you’re not going to see them till the next festival, even if they’re going to be there. Our idea was to have a central hub or website where each producer, stall holder or sponsor could keep people up to date with their offerings.
There was a brief intermission for food, supplied by a local Indian Restaurant Poppadums & beer from a Newport micro brewery, The Tiny Rebel Brewing Company. Both of which were excellent & a good demonstration of why there should be events like this, *(see footnote). As a group we chatted and exchanged thoughts, we did the occasional tweet (although it was frowned upon during the presentation due to a technical issue), one of which was this gem from Mr Adams:
After the sustenance the floor opened up with more ideas flowing, all with good intentions, some would be less viable than others but all ideas were welcomed. There were the ubiquitous flip charts, to visualise ideas and a chance for people to expand on them, all in all it went well. It actually made a refreshing change for event organisers to listen to people who really have nothing to gain in any way other than to have a better experience & chance to promote local producers & eateries.
Newport Food Festival
6th October 2012
Newport, Gwent, Wales.
Website: Newport Food Festival
*In a further footnote to this post, I would like to point out that I was so taken with the Tiny Rebel Brewing Company’s beer that I’ve been round to my local drinks emporium and given them my sample bottle in a hope they’ll stock it. That’s how good it is.