Doing what I do means visiting a lot of food fairs. I don’t tend to write about them, rather use them as a barometer of what’s going on in the local food and drink world.
You get used to seeing the same faces, favourite and familiar local producers and generally knowing what to expect from the day. However….
I had not been to Kenton Hall Estate before.
The food fair there is a relatively recent addition to the many other ways this family-run farm is diversifying. As well as being a working arable and livestock farm; they also welcome guests for weddings, glamping weekends and cookery courses. The latter being hosted in their state of the art teaching kitchens, housed in a converted cow byre.
The one thing that does grate on me with typical food fairs is the cost to enter. Most events will charge you to enter, and then once inside you are bombarded with people trying to sell you things. It often seems like poor value.
Not so here. The entry and parking are all free of charge. As are a timetable of farm tours, tractor rides and cookery demonstrations throughout the day. All for free!
This means that when it comes to the producers who all want to convince you to buy their wares; you’re more likely to do so. Good news for local foodies; great news for local producers!
Within an hour and a half of arriving I’d been on a guided tour of the estate and learnt how tomake cheese and then focaccia bread. There’s a lot to do.
Tractor and trailer farm tours run every hour, as do Tractor and trailer rides aimed at families and children.
Cookery demonstrations and BBQ masterclasses are held throughout the day. Visitors can see expert demos on cheese, bread, choclolate and grilling.
On top of this there are a good selection of well-chosen food producers and street food vendors. Of course you can sample the Long Horn beef which is raised on the farm. Or for non beef eaters like me; Hay Hay make a stunning vegan pitta.
Mostly it’s very foodie (perfect for me!) but there are also some local craft stands amongst the beekeepers, ice lollies, gin distillers, patisseries and sauce companies.
Because there were too many exciting things that I just couldn’t say no to I’ve also arrived home with bags of goodies to try later on.
Dinner this evening is already planned courtesy of The Penny Bun and Fen Farm Dairy: A slice or two of sourdough, squashed vine tomatoes and a great big slab of melted St Jude cheese. Washed down guilt-free with a 90calorie rhubarb and gin cocktail from Slim Gilly’s – Heaven!
Worth a visit?
Kenton Hall Estates have managed to faciliate a very special day out, covering a wide range of interests. There is a refreshingly new range of small, local producers, as well as some familiar big hitters. The surroundings are beautiful and everything is well spread out meaning you never feel crowded.
It appeals to such a range of people that there is a wonderful mixture of having ladies in floral aprons serving cups and saucers of tea alongside tattoed coffee-hipsters alongside middle eastern street food. It’s village fête meets artizan food fair – in the most charming way!