Festival is a recipe for success

Royal Victoria Place Car Park

An eclectic menu of food and drink from both home and abroad mixed with some outstanding local entertainment helped create a carnival atmosphere on the lawn of Tonbridge Castle over the weekend.

Thousands of visitors attended the first Tonbridge Food and Drink Festival which was held over three days from Friday May 20 to Sunday May 22.

The event was organised by the Tonbridge Town team and after a very busy weekend of satisfying people’s hunger and quenching their thirst the committee’s Chair, Howard Porter, admitted things had gone really well. “It’s events like this that help put the town on the map,” he said.

Around 50 stalls offered an impressive choice of tempting treats including gourmet pies, traditional hog roasts, artisan breads, Spanish churros, handmade fudge and other desserts.

There was also a chance to taste a selection of wines, craft beers, ciders and homemade liqueurs on offer from many of the local producers.

Prior to the festival, the Sociable Wine Company managed to acquire the only two jeroboams of Puech-Haut in the UK – each carried a price tag of £150 each. One was sold at a similar food festival in Sevenoaks last week and the company was hopeful the other would be sold at the Tonbridge Food and Drink Festival.

Mr Porter was also pleased to see a number of companies from the West Kent area, who took pride of place alongside the produce of other specialists from around the globe.

“We’ve had good feedback from stallholders and visitors, despite the small amount of rain on Saturday afternoon,” Mr Porter said. “The success gives us confidence that it can become a regular part of the town’s events diary.”

Jonathan Thurkettle, of the Sevenoaks-based truffle business Urban Truffle, also rated the festival as a success. “Being an online retailer, this was a great way for me to meet customers,” he said.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but there are quite a lot of people here and I think it’s gone well.”

The live entertainment was organised by Dave Mac from the Razzmatazz Theatre School who also acted as the festival’s compere throughout the weekend.

“I just had one of the best weekends ever, putting some fantastic people on stage at the Tonbridge Food Festival,” he told the Times.

“Local acts such as the fabulous Hobbo and the Hippies, multi-talented Lee Willz, singalong specialist Tom Carradine and the high energy blues from Sam Dunstall were brilliant. Then we had great up-and-coming talent from Jamie’s Music Station and Charlotte Lubbock’s performers.

“The students from the Razzamataz Theatre School were wonderful and the Tonbridge Community Singers’ mini concerts on Sunday afternoon were great with the Swallows Band rounding things off perfectly.

“All of the acts served to showcase the enormous amount of talent we have in the area.”

PHOTOS BY: Paul Shilling of Shillingsnaps.wordpress.com; Mark Sonnex of Advantage Media UK Ltd and Neill Barston and Frank Baldwin

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