Well, I say festival, but farce might be closer to the mark. It wasn't very good.
It's hard to believe that the Halifax Food and Drink Festival has been going for 5 years. In that time I would have thought that the organisers would have learnt how to promote it. I live in Hebden Bridge, about 7 miles from Halifax, but I only heard about it when I saw a poster in Manchester Victoria train station. I saw nothing about it in Hebden Bridge, nothing in Todmorden, and nothing in Halifax, come to think of it.
Promotion that bad almost guarantees low attendance. And starting the festival on a Friday wasn't a good idea, aren't most people at work on a Friday?
To call it a festival was just downright misleading. There was nothing at all like a festival about it. It was like paying to get into a market, and I've been to better markets. Apparently Friday and Saturday had been so quiet that some of the stallholders didn't return on the Sunday. There was only 7 or 8 there on the Sunday, which was very disappointing.
Making matters worse was a painfully embarrasing cooking demonstration from Anthony Worral-Thompson. He thought we was somewhere near Darlington! He'd heard that Darlington was in 'the North', and obviously assumed that as he was in 'the North' he must be near there. Oh dear. He then took an hour to cook steak and chips and drank red wine from a bowl. I guess he'd had a few before he even got on the stage.
If Calderdale Council decide to continue with the festival they would do well to do a bit of market research beforehand to find out what people want from a food festival, and whether they want one at all. Assuming people do, then it would be worth asking them what they want, and maybe looking at other more successful festivals which take place around the area. Getting local restaurants on board would seem like a good idea as well - I'm sure they need all the help they can get at the minute.