Every autumn, lovers of fine food and drink flock to Dartmouth Food Festival in their thousands to sample a mouth-watering range of the South West's many culinary delights. This three-day epicurean extravaganza, which will next take place on 18-20 October 2019, possesses a distinctly regional flavour and yet has achieved national importance. In fact, both the Guardian newspaper and Food and Travel magazine describe Dartmouth's celebration of local produce and local dishes as one of Britain's best food festivals.
Now in its 17th year, Dartmouth Food Festival offers the idyllic harbour town's residents and tourists alike an authentic taste of Devon, Cornwall and the surrounding area. With its mild climate, lush green landscape, rich farmland and crystal waters, the South West is famous for its fresh fruit and vegetables, free-grazing beef, tender lamb, superb seafood, artisan bread, and freshly baked scones served with clotted cream and delicious jam, as well as fine wine, craft beers, refreshing gin, traditional cider (or 'scrumpy') and tasty cordials. You can sample all this and more by visiting the stalls at the festival's four main venues: the South Embankment, Old Market Square, Royal Avenue Gardens and neighbouring Boat Float.
The festival's organisers emphasise that thanks to a growing reputation for world-class food, Dartmouth is the perfect setting' for this major event in the culinary calendar. The roll call of people involved reads like a 'who's who' of local food and drink legends. Renowned chef Joyce Molyneux, who received a coveted Michelin star while running The Carved Angel by the River Dart, is the festival's honorary patron. Her successor at the restaurant (now called The Angel) is MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Elly Wentworth, who opened the event in 2018. Mitch Tonks, the driving force behind two other acclaimed local eateries – the rustic Seahorse and laid-back Rockfish – acts as ambassador. Festival chefs Serin Aubrey and Simon Entwistle have enviable reputations as Dartmouth Fine Foods' bespoke caterers.
Well over 100 businesses, many of which are based in Devon, showcase their produce at the festival each year, including Dartmouth's leading lights in the culinary arena. Talented teams from The Seahorse, The Angel, Café Alf Resco, Dartmouth Community Orchard, Dartmouth Distillery Co. and more will share their expertise with festivalgoers this year. You can expect an outstanding programme of activities, featuring cookery demonstrations from top chefs, wine-tasting sessions, competitions to test your skills in the kitchen, and culinary talks providing plenty of food for thought. Young families will love the children's tea party.
What makes Dartmouth Food Festival particularly remarkable is that it's run by volunteers as a not-for-profit venture with free admission. Just like Dartmouth Royal Regatta, it brings people together and highlights the town's impressive community spirit. Money spent by visitors during the festival helps to support local trade and safeguards the event's future.
Throughout the year, the festival team organises fundraising events around Dartmouth and nearby. Recent examples include a chilli cook-off in the Old Market Square and gin tasting evening across the river in Kingswear. On 12 October, supporters can enjoy a taste of the high life by attending the Festival Feast at the Flavel, hosted by Dartmouth's modern arts centre. This first-class fundraising banquet will be expertly prepared by chefs from three elite institutions: Royal Dart Yacht Club, Dartmouth Fine Foods and Dart Marina Hotel & Spa.
The award-winning food writer Diana Henry remarked that Dartmouth Food Festival is held 'in one of the loveliest bits of Britain'. She'd surely approve of its environmental stance.
Dartmouth's scenery is as wonderful as the food and drink, and the festival's organisers are committed to helping it stay that way. That's why you'll find compostable plates and other eco-friendly alternatives to potentially harmful single-use plastics at the event. In addition, the festival stresses the importance of animal welfare and sourcing food responsibly. As a result, Dartmouth's celebration of the South West's amazing cuisine is not only one of the most successful events of its kind, but also one of the most inspiring and uplifting.
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