Earlier this month I was fortunate to be at Abergavenny Food Festival for the second year in a row. I loved every minute of it, and it got me thinking about how food festivals have coloured and influenced my life as a food blogger. You can almost document my blog’s journey through the food festivals I’ve attended over the years.
Being asked to join the blogger community for the BBC Good Food Show was one of my first ‘big breaks’. Right back in 2012, I attended my first show in Birmingham with my mum in tow. I wasn’t sure what to expect back then and was excited to have free tickets and the odd RT from the show. What I wasn’t expecting was to meet and develop relationships with local producers. I wasn’t expecting to learn and watch chefs demonstrating their skills.
Over the next few years, I went to more food shows around the Midlands, soaking up the atmosphere at the summer and winter BBC Good Food Shows and discovering the Foodies Festival as well as attending local events. I built relationships with producers and brands giving me the opportunity to start making a bit of money from the blog and try new things I wouldn’t otherwise have tasted. It was also at these shows that I met fellow bloggers who I’m still friends with now.
As time passed and I realised that as great as those commercial shows are, there are only so many cheese and gin samples you can get through and increasingly the same celebrity chefs appeared time and time again to push sales on their new cookbooks or product lines. I found that I wanted something more – something real. And I found that first with Food Connections, shortly after I moved to Bristol.
Looking for something local
Food Connections has changed direction and appearance over the last years but one thing remains true – it’s all about the local community. I love that. You know why? You learn stuff. That first year (2015) I didn’t just taste things, discover things, I actually learned things too. I broadened my mind, listened to experts talking about trends, issues and the future of food.
Abergavenny is like a local food festival on steroids. It takes that feeling of love for the local food community and doubles it. It’s a commercially run festival, of course – the stall holders are there to make a profit. And yet… it doesn’t feel it’s all about the money. The Abergavenny Food Festival blends into the town in which it happens – the majority of the stalls, talks and events are linked to the local community. It feels wholesome and inclusive.
I left this year’s festival feeling inspired and ready to take the blog in a new direction. I want to write about things that matter – not just another restaurant opening that everyone else is attending. To seek out producers and suppliers with a passion for what they do. I want to learn more about the food community around me.
You might have heard me talking about At the Sauce – a new podcast I’ve started with my friend Karis. It’s all about food stories and I’m immensely proud of what we’re doing. We’ve already spoken to some really interesting people from all walks of life and I think it’s going to influence what I do here too. I’d love you to give it a listen; there’s a link to it in the sidebar –>
And so, after almost 7 years as a blogger, my posts have started to change a little in content and style. That’s because I feel like I’ve finally found my food blogging feet. All thanks to food festivals.