Blog: What do outside event organisers do at this time of year?
Our friend and supporter, Emma Owen from Oakleigh Fairs tells us the answer to one of the most frequently asked questions put to her...
‘So, as an outside events’ organiser, I’ll bet you put your feet up at this time of year?’ This is probably the question we get asked the most at this time of year – and the straight answer is a simple ‘NO!’
It couldn't be any further from the truth, in actual fact; with nearly 30 Country Shows, Food Festivals and Craft Fairs running between March and the end of 2015, now is probably our busiest time – certainly in the office – where we are taking bookings from all of our stallholders and exhibitors, planning in all of the acts and entertainment, sorting out the catering and the bars, talking infrastructure with our suppliers and of course booking in hundreds and hundreds of...toilets (and yes, I do mean ‘toilets’ rather than ‘loos’, although it pains me to say so!).
So the office really is all systems go and the Farm Team are non-stop too (although they think that the office team sit about all day and the office team thinks that the farm team are just outside mucking about...sigh...) mending and fixing, and building and scrapping (actually rather a lot of scrapping...) and of course with February well underway we can just about see Spring on the horizon and Spring on the farm means...babies!
And so far that means seven Jack Russell puppies with more terriers on the way to support our Totally Terriers racing team – (Totally Chaotic, more like) and twin pygmy kids born last night to one of our nannies, with many more of them on the cards, looking at the size of some of the others. The bunnies are of course doing what bunnies always do with a multitude of little delights appearing on a very regular basis now, as well as the guinea pigs, the chickens, the ducks, the cows and of course little Dexter, our dwarf bullock, who, well, he just eats a lot of grass for a little chap who won’t grow any bigger, but he is adorable so we don’t mind.
This is one of the end results of being as autonomous as we can be – our own farm supplies the show business with many of the animals we take out (including to schools http://schools.totallyalive.co.uk/ which means we understand the provenance of the animals that attend our shows – so not just important for those with Produce, but really important in our industry as a whole, too.
And all of this of course is before the show season actually starts (when it becomes ongoing) – and when that kicks in – we then work at the weekends as well!
But with all of this going on, there is of course the meaty question of what we do for down-time, and in my case, I cook to relax.
My two daughters are now fourteen and just coming up to twelve so although I now operate their taxi service, they are, I just about suppose, less hands-on than when they were toddlers of course, but we always eat together in the evenings and helping me prep meals is often how we can catch up with their daily doings (without the ever-present mobiles which would get covered in flour and whatnot – so point there to Mother!) and because we have a lot of our own animals, we also therefore have a lot of our own produce – which again is great as I know we are eating very little (or no) processed food or food filled with hidden additives, sugars and salts. And in order to keep it cheap (like all busy working mums), I stick to what is in season, fresh (and of course what I can find in the freezer, left over from previous weeks).
So a typical Saturday morning would mean my younger daughter parked at the kitchen table, propped up with homework books (the elder one prefers the peace of her own room for study) and me chopping, slicing, baking, boiling and roasting accompanied by the telly (Saturday Kitchen Live – with that lovely James Martin, or our very own Matt Tebbutt standing in – who you can see in our demo kitchen at Knebworth in April) and a froth of steam and smells coming from the stove.
And just looking at this Saturday’s endeavours got me thinking about all of the ingredients and where they had come from and how far they had travelled to me: meat we had grown (our Dexter cattle), meat we have fed (our Jacob sheep) or even that my partner has shot (pheasant) – so not so much Air Miles as Air Metres! Together with all of our Veg which comes from a stall at our local Fur and Feather market and the chap who runs it collects up stuff from all the allotments and plots hereabouts so it’s all as fresh as fresh can be.
And of course we collect up loads and loads of fabulous product from our stallholders through the year – I am simply unable to resist (yet another) jar of mint or quince jelly, made by one of our Artisan Producers...heaven! All of which get used up during the year – and the cupboard needs refilling just as the show season kicks back in! How cool is that?
So you could say that we never actually stop – not quite true – as we do take a break here and there – we do a lovely show down in Poole in Dorset in August and the children and I always take a couple of extra days to explore the Dorset beaches – sorry, I meant to say to help our crew set up...
So the phone keeps ringing and there’s something boiling over on the stove...hope to see you at one of our events over the summer....www.oakleighfairs.co.uk – see you soon!