Thousands expected at food festival

Several Stratford-upon-Avon town centre businesses will form the Food Festival's Taste and Ale Trails. Pictured are Josie Williams (Veeno), Aga Szczotka (Vigour Cafe), Tracey Norcup (Crowne Plaza), Shelly Tugnait (The Riverbank), Hayley Chilver (Crowne Plaza), Jamie Forrest (The Golden Bee), Davide Lazzari (The Riverbank), Paul Lupe (Union Bar), Mark Gregory (Silhill Brewery), Lydia Thomas (The Golden Bee), William Blackmore (Veeno).

THE Stratford-upon-Avon Town Centre Food Festival gets underway today, Saturday.

The free event has been cut from its normal three days to two days at the request of town businesses due to traffic problems last year.

The festival will take over Meer Street, Henley Street, Bridge Street, all of which will be closed from 7pm today, Friday, until 2am on Monday, 25th September.

Waterside will also be closed to traffic, between Bridge Street and Sheep Street, from 7pm on Friday until midnight on Saturday.

Last year the festival brought around 80,000 into the town centre.

This year organisers Stratforward BID has partnered with Cotswold Markets to deliver a market brimming with nearly 100 stalls featuring regional food producers and showcasing a mouthwatering selection of the very finest food and drink.

There will also be demonstrations from town centre chefs and producers at The Waterside Cookery Theatre, plus workshops and hands-on classes for adults and children alike at other venues across the town centre.

The Taste and Ale Trails will again give visitors the chance to try tasty treats from around 20 restaurants, cafés, bars and pubs.

Stratford Literary Festival will host an evening with highly-acclaimed chef Yotam Ottolenghi tonight, Friday, and there will also feature a sneak peek at Michelin-starred chef Mike Robinson’s plans for his new Stratford restaurant at The Falcon and the launch of a new beer by Silhill Brewery at The Golden Bee in Sheep Street.

Mark Gregory, founder of Silhill Brewery, said: “Hop Star is the latest addition to our growing portfolio of ales and we’re delighted to be able to launch it at the Stratford Town Centre Food Festival.

“We have a strong relationship with The Golden Bee, so this is the perfect place to showcase our newest beer and we look forward to hearing what beer fans who take part in the Ale Trail think of our latest creation.”

The festival is sponsored again by Sheep Street restaurant Loxleys, which has supported the event for the past three years.

Stratforward events manager, Ruth Wood, said: “The change from three days to two comes in response to feedback from our members, who wanted a more traditional weekend festival featuring regional producers.

“Friday was less popular than the other days and feedback also found it impacted more heavily on work traffic within the town centre, so the decision was taken to make the festival a more focused two-day event with a real focus on regional producers and local culinary talent.

Ruth added: “We’ve listened to feedback from previous events and the 2017 town centre food festival is all about local, from regional producers to local up-and-coming chefs and a real showcase of some of the food and drink businesses we have right here in Stratford.”