Powderham Food Festival 2017

For me, Powderham Food Festival is one of the last great food festivals of the year and we will now start to see the Christmas market adverts appearing as the countdown to buying hot mulled wine and German sausages from wooden huts has begun.

This year's festival was blessed by great weather on the Sunday I attended, and this helps the festival no end, as the vast majority of producers are outside of the main castle; there is nothing worse than being dropped on from above or being poked in the eye by an umbrella as you all dash to grab the last chocolate brownie sample. 

I have to give a big thumbs up to the way the festival is organized, especially the journey to and from the event - clear signs, car park wardens, and a tractor ride from the car park all add up to a professional put together event; Westpoint could learn a lot from these guys.

In its sixth year now, you may think it's getting a bit samey but the team work very hard to have the best producers and sellers you will find around the southwest and beyond. With the talented team at the Exeter Cookery School, Richard Hunt of The Devon Scone Company and Masterchef semi-finalist Annie Mackenzie in the cookery tent, it's a great place to sit learn and sample from some talented chefs.

The highlight of the festival last year and indeed this year is the very talented Marcus Bawdon of Devon's only UK BBQ School and Simon Dyer ITV's 2015 BBQ Champion, who spend the weekend in the smoke filled tent surrounded by fire pits, smokers and bbq'. They will teach, feed and entertain everyone from pre school to pensioner and they really do know what they are talking about.

I'm very lucky, as a blogger, I have many opportunities to visit many food festivals and you get to know the people and their products so it's really great that everyone loves this event, from the location to the atmosphere that this festival brings.

At this year's festival was the brilliant Colin from India in a Jar with his unique and brilliant curry pastes, pickles and Indian snacks, and his curry pasty in a thing of wonder. Bell and Loxton, a South Devon rapeseed company owned by Jonathan, who is always happy to talk about his wonderful range of well thought out oils. 

Grown Up Marshmallows with its range of amazing homemade marshmallows; I don't particularly like marshmallows, but I'm assured by my son that these are epic and owner Janet is always very friendly and chatty. These are just a few of the wonderful array of producers and products to see your cash disappear quick but never fear, with the advance in PayPal or phone card machines, many stalls were offering this service now.

All sampled out and in need of a tipple or two, I headed for the lovely Salcombe Gin and then ended up at my favourite gin Barbican Botanist, a wonderful gin from Plymouth - a bottle was soon purchased. They also run Little Gin Box - check them out for gin delivered to your door! 

Stannary Brewing Company in Tavistock were showcasing a range of their excellent beers from Belgium inspired beers to American IPA and chocolate stouts, each with a unique taste, these boys have obviously put a lot of work into the beer and I wish them luck!

I do find it annoying that one or two stall holders would rather read the paper or do some knitting instead of interacting with us, the customer, who have approached the stall with a view to talk, sample and buy the goods on offer.

If I had to give feedback, I think a different layout would be best suited to the wonderful space that this event occupies. I would move all the cooked and street food stands to the bottom field next to the smoke tent. Improve the size of the music tent, as it's very wasted and move that with the hot food stands and put out some chairs, rugs and hey presto - people will buy the food and stay for the music. That would leave space to move everyone out from inside the castle (which get so jammed packed and is no fun to shop).

This leaves the castle empty for people to walk and enjoy the amazing interior. I also think they are missing a trick with the music - Powderham has such a great reputation with putting on music events, why not have music on the Friday or Saturday night with some local bands and the food sellers like the After Dark at Exeter Food Festival?

These points really don't detract from this excellent event but may keep the festival fresh and exciting in the future.

So get your 2018 diaries out and pencil in next years event as soon as dates are known, which I'm sure will again offer a great array of food and drink and you never know - there may be a Friday or Saturday night after dark party. 


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