Many towns and cities hold annual food festivals these days. But Emsworth doesn’t like to follow the flock or go through the motions.
And that’s why the town’s Food Fortnight – which starts in earnest this weekend – is one of the highlights of the events calendar and has earned national acclaim.
Organisers make efforts to involve the whole town and community in the festival, from school pupils to local pensioners. And they make sure it’s not just about food – but about education, community and celebration.
Giles Babb, chairman of Emsworth Business Association, said: “The Emsworth British Food Fortnight is not just another Food Festival – this is a real celebration embracing community and education and celebrating Emsworth and the local region through its people and its food.
“It’s no secret that high streets across the UK are facing difficult times and this is a brilliant opportunity to showcase just what can make the High Street such a special place and an important part of any community.”
Also looking forward to the fortnight is Amanda Thomas, general manager of the Brookfield Hotel. She said: “We are once again delighted to be taking part in this year’s Emsworth British Food Fortnight.
“It has become very much a part of not only the local calendar but also brings visitors from further afield.
“We are so excited to share in the passion that Emsworth has in promoting our community, to live and work in. This is a real celebration of all the very best of seasonal and local produce as well as all that is great about Emsworth.”
Helen Pattinson, co-founder and director of event sponsors Montezuma’s Chocolates, said: “We are really excited to be supporting the Emsworth British Food Fortnight again this year.
“Producing all of our chocolate just a few miles away, the fortnight is a fantastic forum for us to get as many people to try Montezuma’s as possible and showcase our products to such an interested audience.
“We will be at the A Thought for Food Market and are really looking forward to the Wine and Chocolate tasting with Alistair Gibson and our chocolate will be found in many puddings served.”
A full listing of events are available at www.emsworth.org.uk – and for more about British Food Fortnight see www.lovebritishfood.co.uk
Here are the main (but not all) events scheduled, with many of them on September 29 and 30, called The Big Feast Weekend...
* Taking the Harvest to Primary Schools. In conjunction with Hampshire Farmers’ Market, food education workshops will be hosted for pupils at primary schools.
* The Great British Seafood Supper at Restaurant 36 on the Quay, on Wednesday, September 26. Hosted by Ian Kellet, of Hambledon Vineyard, presenting some of his wines, alongside a four-course dinner focusing on British seafood and local produce.
* Emsworth Beer and Cider Festival, Friday, September 28 to Sunday 30 at Emsworth Community Centre. Enjoy up to 30 great British beers, both local and from further afield, combined with some astonishingly good English wines and cider, as well as live entertainment and local food producers.
* Hampshire Farmers’ Market, Saturday, September 29, St Peter’s Sq.
* Emsworth, The Grape Escape, Saturday 29 and Sunday 30. Organised by the area’s four local independent wine merchants, this is a wonderful opportunity to taste more than 40 wines and spirits. While focusing on award-winning English wines, there will be some fantastic wines from other regions, from Rioja to Stellenbosch. And it’s not just wine on offer, there will be a range of British gins and the English Whisky Co will also be there.
* A ‘Thought for Food’ Local Showcase Market, Saturday, September 29 Sunday 30. Created to enable food and drink producers from West Sussex and Hampshire to come together and showcase their products in Emsworth, this outdoor market has proved a big hit with visitors and producers. There will be live music in association with Harbour Records.
* Emsworth Apple Pressing Day, Sunday, September 30. A real community event. Local apples grown by residents producing Emsworth Apple Presse in the Square. The label for this year will be unveiled on the day, designed by a primary school pupil.
* The ‘Great British Menu’ College Lunches. Catering students from two local colleges take over the Brookfield Hotel and design, prepare and serve a ‘Great British Menu’. Fareham College students do it on October 3 and Highbury College on October 4.
* Surplus Supper, Tuppenny Barn, Saturday, October 6. A collaboration with UK Harvest highlighting food waste and food education. Park Community School will assist chef Steven Cross in the kitchen to prepare.
* A Boost of Kindness Food Bank collection points will be prominent in Emsworth over the fortnight for the Beacon Food Bank, ending in a Food Mountain being built on Sunday, October 7.
* A Special Community Harvest Festival Service in St Peter’s Square, Sunday October 7, 11.30am.