Buzzing food festival a real crowd-pleaser

AS the sun came out, visitors came in their thousands from far and wide to enjoy this year’s Wells Food Festival, which took place on Sunday, October 8.

The organisers were understandably delighted: “We estimate that over 15,000 people visited. There was a real buzz, with the stunning backdrop, the sun shining, music throughout the day and of course, fabulous food and drink from our artisan producers,” said Jon Abbott, festival organiser and director. “We were particularly thrilled by how many ‘sold out’ signs were displayed on stalls by the end of the day – it is a real measure of the festival’s success.”

Each of the children’s cookery sessions at the Fun Kitchen pop-up cookery school was fully booked, hundreds of seed bombs were made in the Children’s Zone and more children than ever took part in the fun trail around the festival.

The Celebration of English Wine marquee proved as popular as always, whilst the new Food for Thought marquee enjoyed a constant stream of visitors. Organiser June MacFarlane said: “It was wonderful to see all the local food-focused charities working together on the day. We were able to point people with food poverty queries in the right direction, and quite a network developed among all the charities in the tent. When the Help for Homeless food truck left to go and feed people on the streets of Taunton it was waved off with applause from everyone, followed by an impromptu performance from an amazing flash mob of young French horn players fresh from their workshop at Wells Cathedral School.”

Charlie Bigham’s inaugural Plate Spinning Championship got off to a twirling success. Three hundred people took part and the overall winner of the competition with a year’s worth of dinners from Charlie Bigham’s was local resident, Nick Gray. Not only that, but a world record was set by professional, Mark James, with a total of 17 plates spinning in 4mins 48secs.

But ultimately the festival is a celebration of the region’s artisan food and drink producers, and this is acknowledged by the Awards. Comments such as passion, enthusiasm and knowledge were a familiar refrain from the judges across all categories. In the end, Charlie Bigham presented the Best in Show Award to Forage & Combe, creators of flavour-infused oils and salts inspired by a love of foraging.

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped on the day,” said Jon. “It is run by volunteers and we are always overwhelmed by people’s generosity with their time. If anyone would like to join the team for next year, please do get in touch.”

Further information from

2023 Award Winners

Charlie Bigham’s Best in Show Award: Forage & Combe; The Mogers Drewett Award for Bread, Cakes & Desserts: Plum Duff & Stuff; The Clearspace Award for Non Alcoholic Drink: Herby4; The Truespeed Award for Alcoholic Drink: Fenny Castle; The Harris & Harris Award for Cooks Ingredients: Forage & Combe; The Mr Filbert’s Award for Snacks and Savouries: Billies & Tong; The Pilgrim Status Award for World Street Food: Murry May; The Chubb Bulleid Award for UK Street Food: Alp Mac; The Super8 Media Award for Preserves: Gingerbeard’s Preserves; The Millfield Award for Best Confectionery: Rutab Dates; The Taylor Wimpey Award for Cheese: Feltham’s Farm.