Feast of food festivals gets the crowds licking their lips

Arlo, Tosh and Lolly Ward enjoy their pizzas at Wallingford Food Festival

Paul Bellchambers demonstrates how to make a warm lamb salad salsa

Ali Butler from Wychwood Brewery at Witney Festival of Food and Drink

First published in News Banbury Cake: Photograph of the Author by , Crime Reporter, also covering Barton and Wood Farm. Call me on (01865) 425427

SHOPPERS got a flavour of the food on offer from local producers as the county hosted two festivals showcasing Oxfordshire cuisine.

The events were held in Witney and Wallingford over the weekend and attracted thousands of visitors.

Organisers yesterday said the success of the markets showed Oxfordshire’s love for locally grown and made food.

Witney Festival of Food and Drink co-ordinator Elpie Lewis said about 4,000 people were thought to have come to the Saturday event at St Mary’s Church.

She said: “We had a brilliant day and we had a constant stream of people. We had 60 stalls and a lot of them sold out and went off to replenish their stocks.

“Everyone is so interested in the provenance of their food now and by running this festival we have discovered companies we did not know existed.”

She added: “We have some great farmers and local producers in West Oxfordshire and we just wanted to showcase what they can do.

“We should be very proud of what is achieved around here.”

She said Witney MP and Prime Minister David Cameron also came to the event, and bought cider and chilli chutney, adding: “He bought a lot of goods from a lot of stalls.”

The event, which was put on for the second time with the help of 150 volunteers, also included cookery demonstrations. It was opened by Billy Rideout from Bakers Butchers who was introduced by television comedian Alexander Armstrong, who lives near Witney.

The Wallingford Food Festival ran on Saturday and Sunday, with more than 2,000 visitors thought to have turned out on each day.

Great British Bake Off star Christine Wallace, who lives in Didcot, was among those to run food demonstrations at the site off The Street in Crowmarsh Gifford.

Organiser Paul Bellchambers said the hot weather helped to sell lots of ice cream, frozen yoghurt, and ice tea.

And he said the food festival – now in its fourth year – was getting more and more popular.

He said: “It just goes to show that range and the number of local producers we have. There is just a wonderful array – from the producers of meat and veg through to the finished produce.”

Thame Food Festival – now in its sixth year – is due to take place in late September.

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