Banbury Food Fair 2017: What It Takes

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I went into a bit more detail about the food part of Banbury Food Fair over on Fabulous Foodie – I mean, food. Right?  But it’s worth noting here where I celebrate and ponder all things local – how much local effort goes into this event.

The Banbury Town Events team: The name says it all – these are the people charged with making these events happen for the people of Banbury. You see them on the day, hustling and bustling here and there – and it is a long day. I’m sure Ann and her team are all feeling every moment of Sunday in their feet and backs. But don’t imagine it’s just that one day.

You may not be aware of how long the ramp up to a specific event is but take it from me – these events are not a sprint. They are a marathon. The show just happened this past Sunday but in only a few months, they’ll be starting to get things together for Food Fair 2018. It’s a long, detailed process involving coordinating resources and demands from multiple sides (all while working on other events happening in the meantime). Addressing concerns and queries from the public, internal stakeholders, external vendors, suppliers, performers, authorities, etc. And then there is the planning – load in and break down, obviously but placement, power, safety, supply chain, storage, on and on.

Finally, throughout and increasing the closer the day comes, there’s communications – internal communications, across teams, with outside suppliers, marketing and promotion. In some places, there will be a whole separate department to promote these things. As it happens – here in Banbury, those tasks also fall to the events team themselves. There is also the extensive ‘what if’ list – and anyone who has ever worked events knows this list is the one that really keeps you up at night.

Local Community: if you’ve been to any Banbury events in the last couple of years, you’ll have seen ModParlPhotos taking pics and possibly me doing escort duty. running an errand of two or washing an occasional dish. But we’re not alone. When it comes to town events, lots of locals contribute and participate – each with their own specific expertise or abilities to the task at hand.

  • Banbury is full of talented musicians and they provide a festive atmosphere to all the local events, Food Fair being no exception. They rehearse, they perform and the lift the whole atmosphere of the place. Music, as I saw this year, can also serve as a guide – a second music spot was included this year, by the side entrance of Town Hall. It served as a sort of audio clue that food fair does wrap all the way around town hall – something quite a few people tend to miss.
  • Local retailers and restaurateurs step up as well. Barry Whitehouse, owner of Banbury’s local art emporium The Artery, did up a fantastic mobile frame so fair-goers could be part of the social media push on the day. Ilja Harvey, the woman behind both Little Amsterdam pancake house and Banbury Cookery School, brought her culinary and organisational skills (and Carl) to bear on getting everything needed for the full day of cookery demos. And some of that stuff wasn’t easy to find.

Baz with his handiwork and Ilja on the job.

  • Local organisations such as the Lions Club provides extra hands on deck for especially busy times like trader arrival – and if you think getting in and out of the marketplace parking lot midday is tricky, try it when you are manoeuvring around stalls and food trucks. Believe me, those extra hands (and eyes) keep everyone moving.
  • Sponsors – the support of local businesses is key to events of any significant size. Food Fair’s sponsor this year was Magenta Self-Storage – and they were certainly a bright edition to the landscape.

  • Then there’s the folks involved in the Floral and Produce Show.  11 years on –  74 exhibitors. 506 exhibits. All in one marquee and it’s so much more than setting up tables and pinning on ribbons. Yes, it gets a healthy dose of town events team attention but has at the center a devoted and passionate sponsor Rosemarie Higham, a busy committee, a panel of judges who take their work very seriously, indeed – and like the Food Fair itself involves a tremendous amount of coordination (just the mailings and receipt of applications alone sounds exhausting) and work in the month leading up to the day itself.

I’ve quite likely forgotten a ton of other people but hopefully I’ve given you some idea of how much work and how many people are involved in making a single day’s event happen. A round of applause for all of them, please. And for everyone who attends the shows – you are how success is measured. A pat on the back to you as well.

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