Foodies help fatten town economy

Crewe Guardian: The town centre was packed with food-lovers The town centre was packed with food-lovers

NANTWICH Food and Drink Festival set tills ringing to the tune of more than £2m for a second year, a new report has revealed.

Traders reaped the benefits of streets thronged with more than 35,000 visitors at a time when things generally quieten down for tourism in September.

A street survey carried out by festival volunteers revealed greater numbers visiting the festival this year – and from further afield.

More than 80 per cent of people said the event was ‘even better’ than last year and would return to enjoy more gastronomic delights next year.

Businesses across Nantwich were emailed questionnaires and in 80 per cent of cases takings had increased over the weekend, some slightly and some massively.

While the vast majority of visitors spent £50 or less, growing numbers spent up to £100 on eating out or on goods such as clothes and household goods.

Festival chairman Deborah Robb said: “Visitor numbers were up by 5,000 this year. In previous years Sunday has been a quieter day but this year the town was heaving.

“Many shops did phenomenal trade, such as one fashion shop which enjoyed a staggering 334 per cent increase in turnover. Charities shops also did well. Oxfam had fantastic book sales.

“An outstanding level of visitor satisfaction was achieved, with new activities such as the children’s marquee at Residence being a big hit with families. Visitors are expected to return to Nantwich in 2014, seeing it as a desirable destination.”

The record attendance saw around 22,000 people travel to Nantwich from all parts of Cheshire. Staffordshire visitors turned out in force as did food-lovers from Lancashire, Gloucester and Yorkshire.

Lack of central hotel accommodation was one issue highlighted. Mrs Robb, of Hatherton, said: “We know hotels did brisk trade. But we also spoke to people who came along for the day and liked it so much they wanted to stay over but found everywhere booked up.”

The three-day festival, costing £45,000 to stage, included marquees on the Bowling Green and Church Lane car-parks as well as a food demonstration theatre on the town square.

A total of 139 traders sold fine food and drink. Pitches were booked months in advance and 98 per cent of them were pleased with their visit.

A food court at the Bowling Green offered speciality dishes from around the world including Mexican, Spanish and Thai. Take-away offerings had an interesting twist such as ostrich burger and Cuban cocktails.

Crowds were entertained by a range of quirky activities from cup cake decorating and pork pie-making to a charity burger eating contest and truffle-eating competition.

Main sponsor was Mornflake with support also coming from Bentley, David Wilson Homes, Nantwich Town Council, Reaseheath College and Co op Community Fund as well as a range of businesses giving their services in kind.

Mrs Robb, a food author, added: “Sponsorship remains vital to the future success of the festival. Without it, Nantwich would miss out on an incredibly busy weekend which showcases the town as a lovely place to visit and spend money.”

Plans are now in full swing for next year’s event.



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