THERE'S double helpings of the Stratford-upon-Avon Food Festival this weekend, with two separate events taking place simultaneously.
On the racecourse, Paul Hollywood from The Great British Bake Off is the star attraction for the festival run by Showplace Events, where entrance is £6 per day.
In town there is a free food festival run by Stratforward Business Improvement District on the Bancroft Gardens, Waterside, and Henley Street.
Now in its eighth year, the food festival split this year when Showplace took their part of the event to the racecourse in order to expand.
Despite the break-up, organisers were keen to play down any rivalry and a free shuttle bus from the town’s train station to the racecourse is being provided by Johnson’s coaches.
There are over 100 exhibitors booked this year and the organisers are hoping for crowds of 20,000 at their new venue.
With Paul Hollywood on Sunday, the headline act on Saturday is Sophie Michell, previous co-presenter on Channel 4′s ‘Cook Yourself Thin’.
Representing Sense, the charity for the deafblind, she said: “What a pleasure to be asked along to be one of the two headlining acts, along with Paul Hollywood, at one of the biggest and best regional food festivals in the country!
“I'm excited by the opportunity to inspire people with my cooking, to let people know what I've been up to and to sample some of the 100+ food and drink exhibitors for myself.”
As well as demonstrations, taster sessions, and interactive workshops, there will be live music throughout both days.
Special demonstrations cost extra, and the three Paul Hollywood exhibitions are £3.
Paul said: "I’ve never been to Stratford-upon-Avon before so I’m really looking forward to getting the chance to visit properly."
Tickets are available online for £5 before the event and children under 16 go free. There is free parking.
Town Centre Festival
In town, more than 40 local traders have signed up for this year’s free event.
New this year is a Ready, Steady, Cook! challenge where chefs from Loxleys, No 9 Church Street, Pizza Express, and Bella Italia will be pitted against each other in a cook-off using local ingredients sourced by Stratford schoolchildren.
Some of the town’s top chefs will be performing cookery demonstrations at the live Food Theatre, and highlights include a butchery demonstration by The Lazy Cow staff.
Around 18 local eateries, including the Riverbank Restaurant and Bar, Hooray’s, The One Elm, Bamboodle and Thespians, have also signed up for this year’s taste trail around town allowing the public to sample tester portions.
A demonstration on the Bancroft Gardens at last year's Food Festival.
Chris Gregory, Stratforward project director, said: “We’ve extended this year’s festival within a carnival atmosphere. It’s sure to be a great event which will bring the town centre to life.
“Our focus this year is all about local traders and produce and we hope many businesses will join in and take part in the taste trail or live demonstrations in this year’s food theatre.”
There is an extended continental farmers’ market and there will also be live music on the Bancroft Gardens from local performers and community groups.
Cheese and Pickle Festival
Elsewhere, there is also the annual Cheese and Pickle Festival in the grounds of the National Trust’s Coughton Court this weekend.
There will be a host of historical demonstrations including rag rugs, basket weaving, rope work, and even an appearance from the Heart of England Ferret Association.
Held between 11am and 5pm, admission is £6.75 for an adult and £3.30 for a child, while National Trust members go free.
On Saturday, the festivities extend into the night with Coughton Court’s first ever Riverside Folk Evening showcasing two duos who have won BBC Folk Awards. Tickets are £15 in advance and £17 on the door.
Tim Edey and Brendan Power are playing Coughton Court's Riverside Folk Evening
For more information on the Stratford Food Festival at the racecourse, visit www.stratfordfoodfestival.co.uk
For more information on the Town Centre Food Festival, visit www.stratfordtowncentrefoodfestival.co.uk
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