Success of the We Love Hythe Life Food Festival 2016!

Big thanks also to Fleur Challis Photography for the fabulous images...

We Love Hythe Life Food Festival Has the Recipe for Success

Take an abundance of artisan food and drink producers. Whisk in a line-up of talented Kentish musicians. Sprinkle with sunshine. Place in the glorious location of Hythe Cricket Ground for two days of the August Bank Holiday… and then enjoy!

The inaugural We Love Hythe Life Food Festival, which took place on Sun 28th and Mon 29th August, proved to be a resounding success, as thousands of visitors flocked to Hythe from all over Kent – and some from even further afield - to sample the feast of foodie and musical treats that we had lined up for them.

Early on Sunday morning, the cricket ground became a hive of activity with busy exhibitors setting up their stalls. Soon, the outfield was awash with colour and a-flutter with bunting as multi-coloured tents and inflatables – not forgetting a giant orange! - popped up on the horizon and the crowds started to arrive. A couple of – thankfully short-lived – rain showers did nothing to dampen the spirits of visitors, who continued to savour the eclectic mix of artisan food and drink lovingly created by stallholders. The cricket ground became a bustling marketplace full of hungry and happy people keen to experience the diverse range of cuisines, cultures and culinary delights on offer. From international street food to the best of British, preserves and pickles to cakes and bakes, exotic juices to proper teas and coffees, every taste and budget was catered for.

The festival combined the best of a relaxed summer festival with a light dusting of English eccentricity: ice cream served from a tricycle, cocktails from a vintage campervan and hay bale seating areas. By lunchtime on both days, the venue was packed with happy festival-goers taking in the holiday atmosphere, with queues for the food stalls snaking all over the site. As the afternoons wore on, the bar buzzed with people keen to take advantage of the long weekend. The local, craft beers and ciders proved especially popular! When the live acts started on the music stage, groups quickly gathered around to enjoy the sounds and the sunshine. From toe-tapping lindy hop and upbeat country to cool blues and soulful solo vocalists, there was something for music-lovers of all persuasions.

Meanwhile in the demo tent, visitors were treated to chocolate-making workshops, bicep-building cocktail-mixing sessions and recipe demonstrations. Sitting patiently through the sessions whilst the air inside the marquee grew rich with aromas from the delicious food the chefs were cooking up was no mean feat but those who did were rewarded with samples of - amongst other things - dark chocolate truffles, Sudanese, Afghan, Indian and Eritrean delicacies and some classic cocktail mixes.

 

The enthusiastic response the festival received from exhibitors and visitors alike exceeded all expectation. Vincent Morse, from London-based stallholder, Radical Roots, remarked that, “For a first time event, it was incredibly well attended. There was a great atmosphere and the clientèle was also great. Everyone has been really excited about it. Well done!”. Caribbean street food vendors, Jerk Spice, even turned down an opportunity to take a stand at the Notting Hill Carnival to come down to Hythe for the festival and had such a successful trip that they promised they would be back next year!

Local residents were equally positive about the new event on the Hythe scene on social media pages: 'an absolutely fabulous weekend with everything I could ask for'; 'great idea and great event'; 'the atmosphere was lovely, certainly worth a visit'; 'it was an absolute pleasure to see Hythe buzzing with people of all ages enjoying the great food and entertainment.” Our aim was always to give Hythe a foodie event to be proud of: something that was entirely for the community's benefit and that would highlight the wonderful array of food and drink producers in Kent. We hope that we achieved that.

 

As with all ventures of this scale, it would not have happened without the help and support of a legion of behind-the-scenes companies, organisations and individuals. Particular thanks must go to the Hythe Cricket Ground for use of their facilities, Hythe Town Council for permitting parking on Hythe Green and, of course, our crew of fantastic volunteers who worked tirelessly to make the festival a success.

 

The sun shone. The musicians played. The visitors came, saw and feasted. There's no doubt that our first foray into the world of food festivals was a hit: so much so, in fact, that we've already starting planning next year's event!