From TV personalities Gregg Wallace and Simon Rimmer, to the thousands of people who flocked to free events, to the sell-out cookery demonstrations at hotels and restaurants; the first New Forest Food & Drink Festival has proved to be a big hit.
Visitors had the choice of over 120 events covering 15 different themes during festival week (October 31 – November 6) including highlights such as a vegetarian banquet with Simon Rimmer of Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, a Very English Afternoon Tea at the Montagu Arms, a six-course food journey at the 5* Chewton Glen Hotel and hundreds of other events celebrating the forest’s foraged food, game, beers, spirits and produce.
Pubs, B&B’s, hotels, restaurants, colleges, tea rooms, vineyards, greengrocers and village halls all showcased the unique food and drink on offer in this special part of the world.
Early estimates put visitor numbers at around the 3,600 mark in total and an income of £100,000 for this top destination during festival week.
New Forest Destination Manager and Food Festival Chairman, Anthony Climpson, said: “After a year of planning it was fantastic to see that so many of the New Forest’s food community – whether they be chefs, farmers, distillers, producers or brewers – join together to ensure this first New Forest Food Festival Week was the success it deserved to be.
“The weather was very kind to us which meant that many of our visitors were really able to get out and explore this unique British environment, in between enjoying the diverse events we organised.”
Events such as the Artisan Bread-making For Fun course at Stepping Stones B&B, A Year in the Life of a Yineyard at Setley Ridge Vineyard’s Rosie Lea Tea Rooms and The New Forest Forager evening at The Bell Inn sold out.
“Our aim was to draw people into the forest at a time when things can be quieter, to really show them everything we have,” said Mr Climpson. “In many ways autumn is THE New Forest season, as the amazing food and drink that were produced and served during our festival showed.”
Two popular free events saw many of the Forest’s chefs and producers gathering in the same venue.
A Taste of the Outdoors (Wednesday) was a living and learning event all about the Forest’s rich history and cultural heritage, at the Pony Sales Yard in Beaulieu Road. In the Show Ring, Head Agister, Jonathan Gerrelli, told visitors about the Forest’s animal culture and demonstrated various customs at this unique Forest venue, while showing off some of the famous New Forest ponies and donkeys. Scrumptious street-food lunches, cooked by local forest chefs, were available to purchase on the day with over 700 visitors basking in the autumn sunshine and even picnicking on the grass.
The Producers’ Market and Chef Demos (Sunday) served as a festival finale. A day packed full of demonstrations from local chefs and showcases from amazing farmers, artisan producers and local craft talent, held at Brockenhurst College, attracted over 1,300 visitors.
For more information on restaurants, chefs and produce in The New Forest, visit www.thenewforest.co.uk/food
T: 01329 82286
Issued on behalf of:
The New Forest