Windy weather didn't deter over two thousand people from turning up for Ballantrae’s third Festival of Food & Drink. Visitors flocked to the award winning event which was held in a grand marquee complex at Ballantrae Harbour. Food and drink stalls offering the very best in local Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway produce, including fish and seafood, meats, cheeses, chocolates, jams, breads, cakes, cider, wine and whisky all did a roaring trade. This year the festival attracted producers from Glasgow and the central belt.
Street food, including a mouth watering range of stone baked pizzas, burgers made with local beef, juices, ice cream, beers, gin and coffee were enjoyed at banqueting tables with stunning views of Ailsa Craig and Arran.
Top chefs Adam McKissock from Dumfries House, David Alexander of Glenapp Castle, Lindsay Guidi of the Home Cook School, Iain Conway of Lochgreen Hotel and Jonathan Pieroni fishmonger, all shared their expertise in cookery demonstrations. Lisa Cutcliffe led foraging expeditions on Ballantrae beach followed by tasting sessions.
Live music was provided by local group “The Spuds”. The “Ballantrae Biosphere” demonstrated the area’s passion for living in a way that benefits people, nature, learning and sustainability.
Ballantrae Primary School pupils’ presentation “Pollination” on healthy eating was very well received as was Brenda Anderson’s fascinating insight into the history of Scotland’s food and drink.
Festival organisers say they're delighted with the turnout. Co-ordinator, Siobhan Liddington said:
“The Festival continues to exceed our expectations. The partnership between producers, suppliers, food and tourism professionals and the local community works well, and brings benefits to us all.
“This year, visitors had the chance to sample, buy and enjoy a huge range of quality food and drink from this area. The Festival was inspired by Ballantrae’s exceptional lamb, beef and seafood produce, and we attracted a wide range of producers from across South West Scotland. The Ballantrae Festival of Food & Drink shows that a small village like ours can put on a major popular event with the support of external partners. In addition, we’re playing our part in helping to deliver Scotland’s national and local food and tourism strategies.” Visitor numbers are only one part of the equation. We continue to work hard to improve the visitor experience year on year.“
“For the first time we held two fringe events to complement Sunday’s Festival - one on the Friday, and the other on Saturday - both linked to food and drink, to ensure visitors had a truly memorable weekend. Both events proved extremely successful.”
“On the Friday evening to celebrate Ballantrae’s rich smuggling history - including the smuggling of brandy, fine wines, salt and tea, the Ballantrae Smugglers’ Festival organised “Music, Poetry and Smuggling Stories”, an event principally for children.”
“On the Saturday at the “Edible Cinema” at Culzean Country Park, the audience experienced cinema in a unique way through aroma, texture and taste with one film for adults (“Chocolat”) and one for children (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).”
“We plan to continue to build on our success through the Ballantrae Farmers’ Markets planned for the second Sunday of every month from July to October.”
Howard Wilkinson, Chair of the Ayrshire Food Network said:
“The food and drink festival scene in Scotland has become very crowded and competitive in particular for one day events. To attract 50 stallholders to an event requires an excellent track record, trust, very careful planning, good promotion, excellent facilities, much attention to detail and an attractive trading / cost proposition. Ballantrae’s festival in its third year, has now, in some ways, outgrown Ayrshire itself, becoming an important Scottish regional food festival. More than thirty five percent of the stallholders came from outwith Ayrshire, with several producers travelling from well outside the south west, including those from Glasgow, the Central Belt and Fife.”
“One of the key success factors was the diligent, creative and cost effective use of pre-planned social media promotion. This contributed to attracting several thousand customers on a wet and windy day to a small coastal village in Ayrshire. Congratulations to the whole community - you made us very welcome.”
Stuart Turner, Head of EventScotland, said:
“2017 has been a great year for Ballantrae Festival of Food & Drink, attracting many producers and visitors from the local area and further afield. Scotland is the perfect stage for events and we are delighted to have supported the Festival as it continues to go from strength-to-strength, offering a fantastic programme of events and activities that showcase the very best of the region’s produce.”
The Ballantrae Festival of Food and Drink was organised by the Ballantrae Food Strategy Group - local volunteers working in partnership with food and drink professionals and others from across Ayrshire. This year the Festival received funding from EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate; Carrick Futures with funding from Scottish Power Renewables Mark Hill and Arecleoch wind farms; South Ayrshire Council; Craigiemains Home and Garden Centre; SCOTMID; and ScotRail.