The sun shone and the crowds came…….
Thousands of people came along to enjoy the fourth Highcliffe Food Festival sponsored by Hoburne Holidays. With the main High street closed there were 85 stalls selling a range of quality produce from Hampshire and Dorset. Two demonstration theatres featuring the best local chefs and two music stages entertained visitors throughout the two days. Older children were catered for the Kidz Kitchen and the library ran a food science day. Younger children were entertained with colouring competitions and biscuit decorating in the local nursery school.
Stall holders reported brisk business with many selling out on both days. Products on offer ranged from quality meats, a range of seafood, cheese, chutneys, artisan cakes, vegan foods and artisan spirits, wines, beers and cocktails. Added to which there were top quality knives and garden products for sale. The Sports and Social club ran a craft market and offered a popular fruit and veg stall, bouncy castle and drinks and Greystones Community Centre held a craft fair and garden party. The Methodist Church offered free drinks and competitions for the children and lots of welcome tables for people to sit and relax.
Stars of the show were Chris Watson the local butcher who took part in two demonstrations of butchery and Russell Murphy of Russell’s Plaice who seemed to appear everywhere all over the weekend.
Local schools took part in the ‘Design a Healthy Meal’ art competition with Emily Lakin from Highcliffe St Marks scooping the top prize of a £40 voucher with her colourful Vegetable Jalouise made in 3D, showing photographs of how she had actually made and eaten it! The Shop Window competition ‘The Butcher, the Baker and the Pizza Maker’ had fourteen entries and was won by the Sue Ryder charity shop. The standard was so high that four other businesses also received vouchers from the Lord Bute restaurant. The presentation of prizes was attended by the Mayor Christchurch Councillor Lesley Dedman who also took part in a ‘Ready Steady Cook’ with the leading chefs from the Harbour Hotel Group. Both chefs were given rump of lamb from leading sponsor Chris Watson Butchers with different ingredients and both produced superb three course meals in 30 minutes.
Festival chairman Mary Reader said “Having started Christchurch Food Festival 19 years ago I have been delighted to see the success and growth of the Highcliffe Festival, which this time has involved the whole community. As a long standing Highcliffe Resident it made sense for me to develop this for the benefit of the village. After all of our hard work it has been so satisfying to see so many people enjoying the weekend. I was enormously proud of the quality of presentations in our ‘Cookery hub’ and ‘Artisan’s Stage’ and to see over 22 leading local chefs, producers and food writers come together to promote local food in our cookery demonstrations.
I really want to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped or became involved, but particularly my husband Richard and our committee, made of unpaid local residents who have worked so hard for many months to enable us to run this festival. To the stewards and litters pickers from God First Church, the ambassadors from Highcliffe Rotary Club and several of my personal friends who came to help over the weekend. We have also had wide range of local businesses who have given financial support and become our corporate partners and I want to say a public thank you to them too.”
Mary went on to say “ The future of the Festival is a little in doubt as after 20 years of working on both festivals my husband Richard and I need to pass the responsibility on to someone else. Next year there will be a lot of re-building in Lymington Road and until we see what space will be available it is difficult to judge how we can run a successful event. However, if enough people come forward to help we have the template and paperwork available and would love to see the village come together to run more festivals in the future”.