A proposal by Eat Festivals to hold a one day food and drinks festival in Crewkerne next July has been approved by Crewkerne Town Council. Co-directors Beverley and Sarah Milner Simonds delivered a power-point presentation to councillors at their monthly meeting of the full town council on Monday evening. The two women explained how their food festivals across Somerset have increased footfall in town centres and helped to boost local traders sales. Beverley said: “We are excited about working with the businesses in the town and encouraging increased footfall, community presence and local sales for shops. As it will be a new event for Crewkerne, we are asking for a contribution for the first year.”
While councillors agreed it was well worth supporting the proposal, there were concerns about the request for an initial investment of £5,000. Cllr Paul Bradly said: “We do have a struggling town at the moment. We are not as big as some other Somerset towns where I understand you have been very successful and we would need to do the maximum we can to get people involved and to support it.”
Cllr Charles Aslett said: “It is a big investment for a market town of this size. If it helps profits to go to our traders, it needs to work.” Cllr Mike Best reminded councillors that as a market town, “the way forward means that we have to provide events for the community.”
Councillor Robin Pailthorpe who had attended one of the Eat Festivals in Somerset remarked how successful it had been with high levels of traders and footfall. He said: “This is a good opportunity for our traders to showcase what they offer.” Cllr Pailthorpe proposed that the town council agree to underwrite it, with additional funding from other sources which deputy town clerk Laura Gowers confirmed looked promising after making tentative enquiries.
Eat Festivals is a social enterprise started by Beverley and Sarah Milner Simonds after moving to Burnham-on-Sea in 2012. They now organise a festival twice a year in Burnham, using five streets, five indoor venues and providing street entertainment with around 140 traders taking part. As multi-award winning organisers who promote food and drink ‘grown from the land around us’ their festivals are rooted in the heart of the communities that host them. In addition to Burnham they now host festivals in Wellington with a recorded footfall of over 15,000, Taunton visited by in excess of 25,000 people and in Weston-super-Mare, Portishead, Minehead, Nailsea and Castle Cary.
The annual festival days are supplemented with a cookery school, cooking demonstration by top chefs on stage, livestock area, farm machinery, entertainment and competitions. Eat Festivals cover the costs of running the festivals and plough any surplus into other food and drink projects. Beverley and Sarah received three top accolades at this years Bristol, Bath & Somerset Tourism Awards sponsored by Bristol Airport. They were awarded Gold in the Responsible, Ethical and Sustainable Tourism Award sponsored by Clarks Village, Gold in the Tourism Event/Festival of the Year sponsored by Bath Ales and received Gold in the Winner of Winners Award sponsored by NFU Mutual.