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Food Festival Goes Down A Treat
Tuesday 13th April, 2010

Food Festival Goes Down A Treat
Antony Worrall Thompson during a Love Food Hate Waste Demonstration as part of the Outdoor Market Kitchen Theatre.

WIGAN’S third Food and Drink Festival has been hailed the best yet!

More than 30,000 people experienced the 10 day event spending more than £200,000 in the process.

A whopping 2,500 gallons of beer were enjoyed in the first weekend while the festival received hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of national media attention.

As well as celebrating the borough’s growing quality food and drink sector the festival also aimed at changing national perceptions about Wigan in a bid to chip away at the borough’s “pie capital” tag.

Keith Bergman is the festival organiser for Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust.

He said: “I’m delighted and proud of this year’s festival. We have certainly achieved our ambitions and much more.
“The festival placed the national media spotlight on the town generating huge amounts of positive media coverage including national features on BBC Radio 2 and 5. Regional TV and radio covered festival events including the world record breaking Fish Curry at the Royal Saffron Restaurant – Lowton. Lifesyle, leisure and trade magazines across the country dished up the festival to readers and national, regional and local newspapers covered the festival with the Guardian listing the Wigan Food and Drink Festival as ‘one of the world’s top local events in 2010’.

For the first time the Food and Drink Festival joined forces with the established Wigan CAMRA (Campaign For Real Ale) Beer Festival. The collaboration saw record numbers attend the two and a half day event at Robin Park Sports Centre with 3,544 people – an increase of 15% on the previous highest attendance - between them drinking 13,000 pints of Real Ale, 3,500 pints of Continental Beers and 2,600 pints of Cider.

The festival’s programme and positioning was strengthened with celebrity appearances by Antony Worrall Thompson and Jilly Goolden.

A total of 750 people purchased tickets for the 20 mouth watering events that made up the food and drink events programme that blended cookery classes, brewery tours, menu launches, themed nights and dinner dances.

More than 5,000 people enjoyed the Outdoor Kitchen Theatre with demonstrations, tastings and, the now annual, Wigan Schools Young Chef of the Year Competition, which was won by Abraham Guest High School.

And an estimated 20,000 people experienced sugar, spice and all things nice at the town’s first ever Sweet Tooth Fair which closed the festival over the Mother’s Day Weekend.

The festival’s main sponsor is national food manufacturer Hitchen Foods.

Business Director of Hitchens – Paul Peachey said: “All in all, this was a great event for Wigan and the region. In just three short years the event has grown into one of the North West’s major food and drink festivals. It provides an economic boost and added credibility to the town and its food and drink sector – a sector that is important – not just for jobs, but also in providing leisure opportunities and helping shift perceptions.”

The final act of the 2010 festival was the selection of the Wigan Food and Drink Festival Restaurant of the Year 2010. A panel comprising representatives of Wigan Tourism Unit and festival partner – Wigan based leading salad supplier Hazeldene - sifted through close to 800 nominations, finally agreeing that the borough’s top eating place in 2010 is The Wheel Restaurant at Wigan and Leigh College.

The restaurant was nominated by regular diner, Mrs Gillian McQuade, Wigan who wrote that …” the restaurant is excellent. The food is prepared and served by young enthusiastic people who have a zest for life and a love for food”.

Because of the high number of nominations, two Highly Commended Awards are to be presented to: Gallimores Fine Restaurant of the Wiend, Wigan and the Royal Saffron – Lowton.

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