More businesses than ever before will be taking part in the fifth Steyning and District Food and Drink Festival.
The visitor and tourism group of Steyning and District Community Partnership launched the annual festival at the White Horse this morning.
Special offers and events have been planned from Saturday, September 2, to Friday, October 8.
Martin Leigh-Pollitt, chairman, said: “There are 55 businesses taking part, which is far more than we have ever had before, which is absolutely fantastic.
“We have also had more sponsors this year than previous years, which allows us to do a lot of advertising.
“We can truly say there is something here for everybody, a most extraordinary, eclectic collection of wonderful events.
“It ranges from Gert and Daisy’s Wartime Cookbook to brewery tours and walks with food. The Great Steyning Festival Bake Off and the perfume making workshop are both new ones.
“It is a fantastic selection of events and all of that has been organised by a fairly small, modest committee. Many are in local businesses and it is difficult to find time off to do these things, so thank you to them for giving up their time.
“All of this is organised and run under the umbrella of the visitor and tourism group and all our activities, which embrace this, are all about getting people to come to Steyning and the surrounding districts, to spend time here and, more importantly, to spend money and preferably to stay here.
“It is all about trying to support the local economy, support the local businesses and support the producers of food and all the traditions that go with the people who live in this area.
“Chestnut Tree House is our partner charity this year. We are delighted to welcome them and to work alongside them. We have some fantastic breakfasts, lunches, set meals and so on, all of which will contribute to the charity, and they have their own safari dinner, which I gather is going well. It is very modestly priced so do please support that. It is very early on in the programme, on September 6.”
Two headline events this year are an Italian extravaganza with celebrity chef Gennaro Contaldo at Sussex Produce Cafê on September 26 and an evening of beer tasting with real ale campaigner Roger Protz at Dark Star Brewery in Patridge Green on October 5.
Reina Alston, one of the main organisers, said: “Gennaro Contaldo, best known, perhaps, for the BBC series Two Greedy Italians, will be joining guests for Prosecco, dinner, an interview about his interesting and varied life plus a personal signing of his book, Passione.
“Roger Protz, editor of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide, will be visiting for a beer tasting event plus book signing. To add to the beer theme, there will be a three-day beer festival organised by Adur Brewery and Riverside Brewery, to be held at Steyning Cricket Club.”
Steyning Farmers’ Market, featuring Ready, Steady, Cook sessions, the best allotment competition and pumpkin weigh-in, will both open the festival and close it.
Three churches have events arranged to coincide with their Harvest Festival services.
Festival offers include free wine, discounts, free coffee and buy one, get one free deals.
Pick up a programme in town or visit www.steyningdistrictfooddrinkfestival.co.uk for more information.
Reina pointed out: “Most participants will request sight of the official programme before you can take up their offer, so it is quite important to get hold of one.”
During the final week, starting October 2, there will be a best food theme shop window competition, with prizes sponsored by Steyning and District Business Chamber.
All shops are encouraged to to take part and author Julia Donaldson will be this year’s judge, making her deliberations at 11am on October 7.