Organisers spice up Harrogate Food Festival Plans

The organisation founded to promote the *Harrogate district’s food and drink industry* has unveiled more detailed plans for a winter festival later this year.

To date, 70 hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs and producers have signed up to Harrogate Food and Drink, including Rudding Park, Betty’s and Taylors and brewers Theakstons.

A total of 40 attended the group’s first gathering at Goldsborough Hall, where co-ordinator Martin Wilks lifted the lid on a programme to run between November 30 and December 16 this year.

It will include a street food festival, food and drink market, both a beer and wine festival, cooking demonstrations and the launch of different food and drink trails. Harrogate Food and Drink is also encouraging members to host events of their own.

“Although our plans involve arranging stand-alone events, we also recognise the value of existing events at that time of year such as Knaresborough Edwardian Market and the Christmas Experience at Stockeld Park – and we hope joint promotion of all these activities will encourage more visitors to the district,” he said.

“We also have our fingers crossed that the Love Food event will return to the Harrogate International Centre but we’ve timed the festival programme to coincide with a time of year when there’s normally a lull before the Christmas rush.

“The party season hasn’t really kicked off by then but people are beginning to plan for the next few weeks and food and drink is certainly on their radar.”

Harrogate Food and Drink is supported by regional food and drink champion deliciouslyorkshire which is offering new recruits joint membership, with a new £65 associate option added last month to attract smaller outlets and producers.

“The Harrogate district certainly has a lot to offer so it makes sense to have one organisation representing the food and drink industry,” said deliciouslyorkshire general manager, Gemma Richardson.

“The festival is an important step but, with plans for a new destination management organisation for Harrogate also in the pipeline, it’s even more important the district’s food and drink community has a representative body to voice its views and opinions.”

Other plans for the festival include a pop-up restaurant, a vintage afternoon and a schools cookery competition.

“We’re delighted with the response and the enthusiasm shown at our first event at Goldsborough Hall ““ and we have more planned through the year,” added Mr Wilks.

“However, we hope to continue recruiting so that, by the close of 2012, the majority rather than the minority of the district’s food and drink outlets and producers are in our ranks.”

The next HFD Members event will be on Thursday, March 29, in Ripon.