Emsworth food festival could make a comeback

AFTER a five-year break, a food festival which divided a town could make a comeback.

The Emsworth Food Festival fell victim to its own success when it became clear the town could not cope with the sheer number of visitors.

It ended in 2007 after visitor numbers reached 50,000.

Now Emsworth Business Association and the Emsworth Residents’ Association’s community fund have set up a committee to look into resurrecting it. They have stressed they would not run it themselves but bring in a professional events manager.

Brendan Gibb-Gray, chairman of the business association, said: “Having a food festival in Emsworth was a wonderful idea, it really took off and was an astounding success.

“Unfortunately it got so big it was difficult to manage and control and people felt it was too much to bear.

“But a lot of people think Emsworth was in its heyday when we had the festival. Now the economy is in a downturn, footfall in the town centre is reduced and shops, restaurants and pubs are under considerable pressure.”

To combat this, the business association is looking into bringing back the festival and is in negotiations to bring the monthly Hampshire Farmers’ Market to the town next year.

If the festival goes ahead in September next year it will be over two days rather than three.

One business owner, who did not want to be named, said they welcomed anything that brought people in, but added: “Hopefully it won’t come back on the same scale. It wasn’t local after so many years.

“The original ethos was about encouraging people to buy locally and using local shops. If it does come back I hope local shops will benefit from it.”

A consultation is under way and organisers want to hear residents and businesses views.

To make a comment go to foodfestconsult.emsworth.org.uk.