Budleigh Food Festival 2019 sadly cancelled
The organisers of the Budleigh Food and Drink Festival have just announced that the festival due to be held in April 2019 will not take place. Over the past 5 years this free community event has proved a resounding success for locals and has attracted many visitors to the town; over 7,500 people visited the last Budleigh Food and Drink Festival in 2017.
Over the years, the Food and Drink festival has transformed Budleigh Salterton every two years into a ‘foodies’ paradise with a packed programme of tastings, chef demonstrations, master classes, local producers and more, in locations across the town. We have enjoyed the company of many local chefs and foodies who have helped make the festival a fabulous attraction for the town and our community.
Since the first Food and Drink Festival in 2013 the event has been organised and managed mainly by the same very small group of local business people who have been running their own businesses as well as organising and fundraising for each of the festivals. Since then the biennial festival has grown into an outstanding community event with over 70 local food producers & artisan stalls promoting the best of East Devon and the West Country, fabulous children’s activities and entertainment, inspiring chef demonstrations alongside a great line-up of live music.
Over the years insurance costs have escalated and regulations have become more stringent, all of which has led to an increase in the administrative and legislative burden. The consequent increase in costs has meant additional fundraising efforts behind the scenes have been necessary to enable the festival to continue to be a ‘free to all’ event. The business model of fundraising and event management has become unsustainable and sadly this year the decision has been made not to proceed with the 2019 event. The difficult decision has taken many months of deliberation as the group has tried to look at alternative ways in which to stage the festival, however this has not proved possible. The group would like to thank everyone involved who has supported the festival by sponsoring, visiting or helping volunteer at the events.
Trudie Burne Festival manager said “Each fundraising event and the main festival takes a huge amount of time to organise. The 2017 festival alone absorbed well over 3000 hours by the volunteer team as a whole. As the big event draws closer each year it commands all of the main committee’s attention and as a group we regretfully cannot afford to spend that amount of time away from our primary businesses anymore, it simply isn’t sustainable. We know the town will be saddened by its cancellation, but hopefully Budleigh with all its many other festivals will continue to thrive.” She continued, “We are of course very disappointed and so sad not to be going ahead with the Budleigh Food and Drink festival in 2019. Despite year-on-year increases in its popularity, we have not been able to achieve the level of financial stability to make the festival viable. As you are aware we have organised a number of fundraising events just to enable the festival to break even but we can no longer sustain this burden. We have had to detach our emotional connection with the event and look at it as a business model, which simply does not have longevity in its present format.”
Sharon Rehbock, festival management committee member commented, “We are sincerely grateful to the people and organisations that have supported this event: our event partners, other individuals and volunteers, but sadly it is very difficult to raise the necessary funding with very little support from any public organisations for these types of events to work in regional areas such as ours. We sincerely apologise to those of you that wanted to come and who were looking forward to the event, we are just as upset about this as you are. Many people, although disappointed with the decision, have understood the reasons for the cancellation, and have been very supportive. Setting up any event of this nature from the start is always an onerous business. The time it takes to plan the event – find the right venue, getting the various suppliers on board, booking entertainment, planning the various forms of advertising etc, etc – together with the up-front costs involved, is a huge outlay of time for anyone, but particularly for a small fundraising group like ourselves who all have families to support and businesses to run.”
But there is some good news
The other community events planned for this year by Budleigh Food and Drink – Beer Bangers and Bands on 13 October 2018 and the Winter feast in conjunction with the Lions Club on the 10 November, will still be going ahead as stand-alone events. These will be the festival committee’s “farewell for now” events when they will hang up their organising hats for the time being. However the Budleigh Food and Drink group will continue to look at ways to hold other community events in the future and hope that the success the Festival achieved in attracting publicity and new visitors to the town, will continue to benefit and enhance Budleigh Salterton. Keep an eye on the festival website or follow on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date!