Programming ideas
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    George Bernard Shaw once said, “there is no sincerer love than the love of food".

    Clearly the volunteer committees and communities who organise about 50 food festivals in Ireland a year, agree!

    These food festivals create a spirit of enjoyment, education and fun. They are great social events for the community as well as being very good for business.

    Helen McDaid
    Fáilte Ireland

    Programming ideas

    There are lots of creative ideas out there so search online and see what is happening. Review the programming in other food and non-food related events - looking at different events can spark ideas for unique ways of doing things with your own festival.
    Ultimately your visitors want to be entertained. Where possible, street entertainment, theatre or music adds significantly to the character of your event.

    Food fringe festival

    Consider developing a series of food-related activities that could be bundled together and used in the run up to the main event.

    Here are some examples:

    • Eat our words: An evening of food-focused poems and prose.

    • Workshops in food photography, or how to Tweet or Facebook your dinner.

    • Talks on the role of food in art, literature and social culture.

    • Food through the ages: Hold talks, demonstrations, farm tours and traditional skills sessions.

    • Storytelling through food: Why not host a seanchaí in the local pub to tell the story of the region with a food focus. 

    Back to basics

    Incorporate a focus on traditional Irish skills; preserving, smoking, salting, making butter, and baking.

    Skill swap Saturdays

    Invite people to come along and teach others a new skill – you teach one, you learn one. You can keep it really simple to start. Maybe tie into the back to basics theme detailed above and incorporate traditional Irish cooking skills.

    Bake off

    Tap into the resurgence in popularity of the art of baking. Hold competitions for pies, cakes, breads or any other regional specialties. Offer a range of competitions for both children and adults.

    Learn from other baking events like the Eden Project Pasty World Championships, held each year in Cornwall.

    Recipe sharing wall

    Encourage people to pin up recipes so that others can copy them down. This could be tied into the skill swap Saturdays  visitors can create a dish, and then bring the recipe home.

    Competition time

    Why not hold a competition in the run up to your festival? Choose an idea like 50 things to do with one of the local foods – cheese, the blaa, apples, potatoes etc.

    Pick the top ten recipes and offer them up to a public vote. 

    ‘Plot to plate’ cook off

    Encourage people with allotments to come and cook with what they have grown. Or team them up with local pubs, restaurants and cafés and let the public vote.

    Tempt growers with fun prizes as well as the more serious ‘best cucumber’ approach.