Calne Festival of Food and Drink

This Is Wiltshire: Jenny Coate, of WI Wiltshire Federation Jenny Coate, of WI Wiltshire Federation

The return of the Calne Festival of Food and Drink at the weekend has been hailed as a great success by organisers.

The weekend kicked off in fine style with a chocolate demonstration by Steve Smith of Chippenham’s The Bridge Brasserie on Wednesday at the town hall, before hordes of people descended on Calne to take in the sights, sounds and tastes of the festival.

One of the event’s highlights was a cook-off between deputy town clerk Daryl Saville-Brown and town mayor Councillor Roy Golding, with Ms Saville-Brown eventually taking the crown.

Robert Merrick, who runs a kitchen at Calne Town Hall, as well as Stones Cafe Bar and Bistro and Patch Of Blue tea rooms, in Calne, and Salad Select, in Chippen-ham, organised the event with the town council.

He said the date for next year’s event has already been fixed in the calendar.

“It was absolutely amazing,” he said.

“It was a fabulous day. We were so pleased with how it went. Most of the stall-holders had nothing left by the end of the day, which was wonderful. It was a great success – we had about 3,500 to 4,000 people there at one point.”

Much of the town centre was used to accommodate stall-holders, including the town hall.

A local Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) group held the fort downstairs in the hall, while demonstrations and taster events happened upstairs.

The festival even featured an unusual presentation from the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, which showed visitors how to use left-overs.

Outside on the streets, there were marquees and stalls allowing local food businesses to show off their wares, and even supermarket Sainsbury’s got involved with taster sessions outside the store.

A brand new addition to the festival also received praise.

Mr Merrick said: “In the evening, we finished off with a barn dance in the town hall.

“It was a really good night and we were pleased. We’ve already booked September 7 for next year’s event. We’re planning to make it even bigger next year with more to do. For example, the Women’s Institute came along this time, and they were over the moon with how it went, so we’re hoping to involve them in a bigger way next time, maybe judging a baking competition.”

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