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Diary of a food festival organiser, part 4

Diary of a food festival organiser, part 4
Image: Mike Dean
A dawn raid on a field of asparagus kicks off the season in style.
As I said in my last post, Wirral has a microclimate conducive to producing the perfect asparagus. And with this in mind I hatched a cunning plan to stage an asparagus run to help raise the profile of Wirral’s great green vegetable despite its ridiculously short-lived season.

After a fair amount of coaxing and cajoling, I managed to persuade three asparagus growers that it would be in everybody’s interest to get up at the crack of dawn, pick the stuff sparkling fresh and make their way, baskets brimming with the green stuff, to the Hillbark Hotel were a breakfast of (their) asparagus would be served. An idea that I’m delighted to say was enthusiastically received by the press and the council.

The invites went out and the hard work started.

Why don't people answer invitations? It is a constant bafflement to me. What made matters worse was that Hilllbark's chef Moya Benson needed to know numbers for the dish she had created just for the occasion. She had no idea what quantities to order since people just wouldn't answer their invitations and let us know. Baffling.

Typically, at the eleventh hour we had a flurry of replies. and a great turnout in the end.

The asparagus arrived with great pomp and ceremony: Andrew, from Claremont Farm, zoomed his asparagus in on his motorbike followed by the lovely people from Church Farm Organics, ambling in on a tractor to deliver their offering straight from the soil.

I did wonder if I was going mad when I ended up in a field at 6:30 in the morning with the photographer taking photos of Andrew picking the fresh asparagus. At least there’s proof that it really couldn’t have been served any fresher or sooner. I've no idea how or why I
Diary of a food festival organiser, part 4
Image: Mike Dean
had the idea to get up at an ungodly hour and stand shivering in a field. Although, rushing the produce off to the hotel just in time to welcome the great and good of Wirral went some way to making up for it.
The event went well and the chef, Ashley, (Moya had to head off to London, unfortunately) excelled himself and there was a lot of great networking going on, including with our potential sponsors. As for the pictures they came out really well and we got lots of great coverage in the local press.

Other news, I finally got the application into the lottery people and, of course, they came back with a load more questions so we have tackle that again now.
The really good news is that the festival is now fully booked with producers; we have more than 100 signed up for the food court. There’s even a waiting list which has prompted us to look into ways of expanding the whole thing into another field.

This week's crisis (there's always one): we learned that this year the usual children’s area family circus won't be available. If you know of anyone keen to put on children’s entertainment at Wirral Food Festival this year then please let us know!
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19 May 2009
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