What an innovative event the 3rd Worthing Food and Drink Festival proved to be!
Congratulations to Worthing Town Centre Initiative for gutsy engagement of the local foodie business community, Proto Restaurant Group for entrepreneurial facilitation of activities in a great spirit of ‘can do’ fun and to Worthing Theatres for testing a new and highly imaginative use of a theatre venue – despite some drawbacks.
Organisation of outdoor seasonal events is increasingly challenging, with unpredictable weather bringing more frequent washouts! To avoid complete cancellation and all that this entails in terms of financial cost, lost revenue, and the dashing of community effort and hopes, it is probably wise to arrange for some activities to be under cover.
Unfortunately, Worthing’s larger civic and amenity centres – the Assembly Room, with excellent acoustics, the library, with a modernised lecture theatre, and the Museum and Art Gallery, with community and education space, are all too far removed from the attractions of the seafront.
So it was good to experiment with the capacity of the Pavilion despite an uninviting entrance obscured by an old-fashioned box office. This venue is surely something that could be developed further. Poor acoustics in a rowdy setting could be improved by putting movable screens/baffles around the demonstration areas – a common procedure at conferences etc.
It was difficult to see what was going on when looking upwards at cooking demos on the stage. This might be remedied by sourcing bigger and more easily visible TV screens – maybe even placing one outside the venue, as for Birdman and some Worthing Film Club activities?
Of course, the most important and resilient part of a food festival should be showcasing what our very own local fishermen, farmers, growers, nurserymen, market gardeners and allotmenteers can produce for our delectation.
There were few producers in evidence, but some good ethical suppliers including two well-known veg box suppliers and Transition Worthing’s new FarmDrop initiative.
For me, the most exciting part of the event was when our fishermen came in straight off the sea bearing fresh sustainably caught local fish.
This was ferried onto the stage for gutting demonstrations, then cooked by professional chefs. It was also available, fresh and glistening, for purchase. A proud moment in Worthing’s more recent fishing history!
Maybe next year, it could be a whole pier event with the wonderfully refurbished art deco eatery at the southern pier pavilion joining in all the fun of the festival, allowing folk to view the fishermen at work at sea and landing their catch, while selling themed snacks and hosting more cookery demos?
Thanks to everyone who contributed to this great sustainable community event, which is going from strength to strength.
St. Thomas’s Road
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