First Dorset date for eat:Festivals

SOMERSET’s successful eat:Festivals will be holding a first Dorset event this year, at Lyme Regis on Saturday 24th April.

The festivals, which celebrate local and regional food and drink, were founded by Bev and Sarah Milner Simonds, as a social enterprise, in Burnham-on-Sea in 2012. The events now include towns across Somerset, in Devon and South Gloucestershire, and this year, Dorset.

Bev says: “We know that weekend shindigs, days out and socialising have all been turned on their heads over the past year with plans disrupted and many regular events cancelled. In 2021 we are hoping for the best, but ensuring our plans include a worst-case scenario.

“We managed to deliver six socially distanced and covid-secure events between lockdowns in 2020 and we are thrilled with the support from local council officers and support services in planning a fresh series of adapted markets in 2021.”

Covid restrictions have meant many event organisers were not able to continue trading and this cut off a vital revenue stream for a lot of local and regional family and small food businesses.

The festivals, which are free to attend, will have approximately 60 regional food and drink producers well-spaced, with some socially distanced entertainment. They are all open air and will have measures in place to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission. Visitors are asked to keep local, plan their visit and abide by the latest government advice.

Sarah says: “New towns, like Lyme Regis, are really important to our aims. We focus on producers who are based within 30 miles of our host towns, so when we see applications coming in from small businesses based outside our area, we want to create routes to market for them close to where they are.

“Traders who had only just started out when the pandemic restrictions hit were some of the hardest hit by the lack of events, so we are launching a new support initiative, Start Out Strong [SOS], to help them.”

The festival programme starts at Minehead on 10th April, followed by Weston-super-Mare on 17th April and Lyme Regis on 24th.

Castle Cary is on 1st May, Taunton on 8th May, Clevedon on 15th May, Yeovil on 22nd May and Burnham-on-Sea on 29th.

From August into the autumn there are eat:Festivals at Portishead, Honiton (part of Honiton Gate to Plate), Chipping Sodbury, Wellington, Yeovil, Weston-super-Mare, Tiverton, Minehead, Nailsea, Teighmouth and Burnham. Winter festivals are planned at Taunton, Nailsea, Yeovil and Weston. For more information visit www.eatfestivals.org

Pictured: Bev and Sarah Milner Simonds, Orbit Photography; Little Jack Horner’s pies, Craig Stone Photography; the Somerset Deli, Clayton Jane Photography; Harry’s Cider,  Spotlight Media.