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Case Study: Thame Food Festival 2018

Case Study: Thame Food Festival 2018

Case Study: Thame Food Festival 2018

This year's Thame Food Festival fell on the middle weekend of British Food Fortnight (29th/30th September) and was bigger and better than ever, with over 10k visitors.  The event featured many different elements including:

- Artisan Producers and Street Food - Thame Food Festival naturally attracts a diverse variety of producers, however in order to attend they need to be a British business and be within a set vicinity of the market town of Thame. In addition, each and every one is sampled to make sure they meet the expected product standards to feature at the Festival. The result this year was a fabulous range of 150 artisan producers and hot street food stalls which were carefully arranged around Thame Showground to maximise visitor interaction, encourage yummy food sampling and celebrate the wonderful food producers we have in the area.

- Chef and Baker Demonstrations.  A myriad of demonstrations on the Magimix main stage took place including Raymond Blanc OBE, Benoit Blin, Candice Brown and Jane Devonshire to name just a few! Raymond Blanc in particular spoke very passionately to the packed audience about the importance of not only using British products, but also thinking more about the seasonality of the ingredients we use.

There was a number of other demonstrations through-out the event on featured stalls. These included Chris Wheeler, Executive Chef at Stoke Park and the UK Ambassador for the Quality Standard Market British Beef and Lamb Scheme who showcased a series of demonstrations over both days.  These celebrated taking pride in British products and encouraging people to buy beef and lamb reared in Britain, while also educating people to buy beef and lamb reared in Britain, while also educating people on specifically out meat with this quality accreditation.


- Masterclasses and Workshops. Adults and children alike got involved and enjoyed the many workshops and masterclasses going on. Local company, Bells Kitchen ran free pizza making workshops using Clementi wood fired pizza ovens, while WI Denham hosted interactive masterclasses on edible gifts and patisserie.  The Oxfordshire Pizza Company was also encouraging children to roll, shape, top and then eat their own pizza.

- Music and Socialising. To add to the atmosphere and ensure all were in the festival vibe there was also a pop up pub, botanical gin garden and prosecco bike alongside a dedicated live music area. This special area extended the celebration of everything local by featuring musicians who regularly play live at venues through-out the area.

- Supporting Local Charities. Children were also entertained by activities run by local charity - Thomley, including ‘design
your favourite dish’, face painting, tattoos - of the temporary variety - archery and giant bubbles. Plus, we were joined by Thame Lions and Rotary working together to bring a selection of the best traditional and timeless games to Thame Food Festival such as splat the rat, hook a duck and a ride on train.

This was topped off by fun and frolics of dog demonstrations and Dog Shows organised by Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and the opportunity to step into the Arctic and Rainforest inside the Greenpeace Dome to understand more about the impact we are having on our planet.

- Local Artisan Food Producer Bursary. For the first time ever, this year saw Thame Food Festival offering a bursary to a local artisan food producer. This was awarded to Tess’ Brilliant Bakes, which was set up by Lisa Hartwright in the middle of 2017. Priding herself on using local quality ingredients where possible, Lisa has gradually extended her range to include various cookies, tray bakes, loaf cakes, cupcakes and larger cakes. The bursary included £1,000 (which Lisa is going to spend on a catering oven), a free pitch at this year’s Thame Food Festival event, a free page in the festival programme, plus PR and social media support for one year. On top of that, she is going to be supported by high profile Food Festival Mentors who will be helping and encouraging her over the year, using their extensive experience within the food and hospitality industry.

The mentors are

- Adam Johnson, Head Development Chef for Raymond Blanc OBE, at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons Oxfordshire

- Chris Wheeler, Executive Chef for Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire

- Nick Downie, Head of Marketing for Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire

As part of the local community we believe we offer great value for money (at £5 per adult with children under 16 going for free), while also giving people the opportunity to enjoy local artisan producers. In 2018 we invested financially in a ‘Local Artisan Producer Bursary’ as part of our community support, which was centred on recognising start-up food producers that are looking to enter the industry. We also gave space for free to the many local charities that attended including
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, Thomley, Thame Lions, Rotary and the WI at Denman College. The objective of which was to enable them the opportunity to raise both money and awareness over the two days of the event. On top of that we also supported another local social enterprise, Dottie about Cake who are encouraging and supporting people back into work, particularly women who have been out of the workplace for a period of time.

Over the years the festival has attracted the fantastic support from scores of celebrity and local chefs who have come to the festival to demonstrate for absolutely nothing. They have come because they love what they do, and they are happy to be part of our celebration of great local British produce.

We aim to grow the festival year on year, but keep our roots with the local and national food community strong. We want Thame Food Festival to be a family occasion with plenty to keep grownups and children happy. We strive to make it the best it can be for family days out. But we also pride ourselves on never forgetting that this is primarily a Food Festival so we will continue to keep the standards high and remain true to our ‘Supporting British Food’ ethos.

For more information and insights please visit:

Video of Event |
Website |
Facebook | @thamefoodfestival
Twitter | @thamefoodfest
Instagram | @thamefoodfestival
Plus, independent review by Mr Baker Blog |