Nick Nairn and Dean Edwards pull crowds at Bury St Edmunds Food and Drink Festival
Television chefs Nick Nairn and Dean Edwards provided stand-out moments as crowds enjoyed the eighth Our Bury St Edmunds Food and Drink Festival.
The two-day event on Sunday (August 25) and bank holiday Monday (August 26) attracted 100 stalls into the Buttermarket and Angel Hill precincts. Organisers credited the event as cementing Bury’s position as the ‘food capital of Suffolk’.
Mark Cordell, chief executive of the business improvement district, said: “We had a fabulous two day event and the (warm) weather was a surprise considering we have had it rainy in recent years. It meant that businesses selling iced drinks did very well! But the hot food stalls were also busy and popular.”
Nick Nairn, who has featured on Ready Steady Cook, and Dean Edwards, of Take on the Takeaway, both showed off their culinary skills at a presentation stand for crowds to watch. Other demonstrations were led by local cooks such as Pascal Canevet, of Maison Bleue restaurant.
Bank holiday Monday was a slightly bigger crowd puller than the Sunday, according to Mr Cordell.
The most popular seller, by his estimation, was George Cake Stall on Angel Hill.
Mr Cordell continued: “All the chefs who performed did so to a full house. We provided 150 seats and it was very busy. I think this was our best group of local chefs.
“Nick Nairn was very popular and Dean went down well on Monday. They both walked around to meet stallholders and members of the public.
“The beach (a man-made structure erected inside the arc shopping centre) was incredibly popular too. An animal farm was also here for the first time and they have told us they would certainly come back. And weather provided a knock-on effect for other businesses in the area too as people came into the shops to get into the shade.
“It was very warm and maybe because of that people did not stay for as long as they did in previous years. But restaurants were full throughout the two days.”
Our Bury St Edmunds, the organisation behind the business improvement district, has not yet published official figures but Mr Cordell said twice as many people were in the town centre compared to a normal Sunday or Monday.
“The idea was to showcase Bury as the food and drink capital of Suffolk. I think we had our greatest range of food and drink stalls ever. We had a large variety and the majority were local businesses - which is also a benefit as it reduces mileage.”
The business improvement district is a scheme where businesses in a set area pay a levy to fund events, such as the festival. It has to be renewed every five years through a ballot and this will next be this autumn.
Mr Cordell said: “We are up for re-election but if we are successful we will start work on next year’s event. We hope to be able to do that.
“It shows the town off to lots of visitors who come in from near and afar, and lots of them return.”
Nick Nairn said on Twitter: “Fantastic stay at Bury St Edmunds, great food festival, lovely people and a wonderful atmosphere.”
For more pictures of this year's festival, see the Bury Free Press newspaper this Friday (August 30).