The Belper Food & Drink Festival is an event to make any local proud, especially considering that at the first festival in 2007, there were 40 stalls and 3,000 visitors. It peaked in 2013 with 105 stalls and an estimated 10,000 visitors.
I enjoyed the event but I do wonder if complacency has set in. There were fewer stalls – 75-80 – though arguably there is now less of a bottleneck in the middle of King Street. What really bewildered me was the absence of live music in the Memorial Gardens and Strutt Street. I was told that the guy who usually organises the live music was away, but if the organisers knew this in advance, did they ask anyone else? Well done to Nourish for staging live music in their garden and there was some live music on the Market Place truck but it didn’t start until 10 past 3.
Also, there was no dancing. I was told that two local dance groups who usually perform at the fest were elsewhere in some competition, but how many dance groups are there within a 30-mile radius of Belper? Loads, I would have thought.
I photographed Duffield Carnival a week last Saturday. The parade was led by a 7-piece jazz band called King Brasstards. They play as they move. They would be perfect for an event like this (ok, they might need to avoid the middle of King Street!). Was there no room for Belper Town Wind Band? We had the Rock Choir a few years ago and there’s three dozen of them at least!
What about having a busking competition?How about booking a couple of stiltwalkers or someone who does bubble magic or circus skills? A wandering juggler or magician doing card tricks or sleight of hand magic would be great. I know the dense crowds would make some of these ideas problematic but problems are there to be solved.
I was led to believe there was going to be a classic car display but that didn’t happen either. A shame as there was a lot of space in Campbell Street.
On the subject of food, could a building be used for a food demo? The Bakewell Food Fest has, in the past, booked well-known chefs. Ok, they would cost money, so charge at the door.
The Festival is still a great event – and it’s worth saying that I did photograph some stallholders who had been at the fest only a couple of times and a few were there for the first time – so the event is still attracting food, drink and craft businesses. However, this Festival could be so much more.