As if moving an established event to a new, temporary venue due to works at the event’s ‘spiritual home’ of Westbridge Park wasn’t enough of a challenge, wash-out weather forecasts cast doubt over whether the 2023 Stone Food & Drink Festival would go ahead on Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 July.
However, early morning on-site checks of ground conditions and careful examination of numerous meteorological outlooks saw organisers give the thumbs-up for the event to go ahead at Kibblestone International Scout Camp on the Saturday morning – and dedicated lovers of food & drink turned up in their droves to support the event.
With free, regular shuttle buses running from stops around the town centre, a Park & Ride service running from Hitachi on Oulton Road and limited parking available on-site, the team behind the festival had worked hard to ensure visitors could get to the out-of-town site easily while causing minimal disruption to locals in the usually sleepy village of Oulton.
Kibblestone Scout Camp provided a picturesque backdrop to proceedings, with a packed programme of foodie fun planned for the ‘big weekend’ – including live cookery demonstrations with top local chefs, talks & tastings sessions, gourmet shopping marquee, street food stalls, a beer tent and pop-up bars alongside some great live music acts. Family visitors were also well catered for, with free big top shows and circus skills workshops in the Panic Family Circus big top, friendly animals to meet at the Children’s Farm stand, fairground rides plus face painting and slushies and candyfloss on offer.
Festival Chairman, Richard Stevens, says:
“We certainly faced some logistical challenges over the weekend, but we are so grateful to everyone who supported the event and make it a success against the odds. From traders to volunteers and the chefs who came along so share their skills in the demonstration kitchen, we’d like to say a huge thank you. It was by no means a record gate – no doubt many were put off by the weather forecast – but to the thousands who did show and enjoy a great weekend of foodie fun we would like to say a big thank you for braving it and making the event worthwhile for our traders.
“I’d also like to say a special thanks to all the local businesses who got behind the festival as sponsors – in particular lead sponsor Drac Group; Live Music Stage sponsors Granville’s and Barlow Motors; Demonstration Kitchen sponsor Aston Marina; Shuttle Bus Sponsor Stonegate Wealth Management and IEIS which sponsored both the Talks & Tastings Tent and the volunteer uniforms. Big thanks also to Roo’s Bar, Six Towns Gin, Bear, Dave Fox Cars Austin & Roe, Stone Scaffolding, Moddershall Oaks, Brown’s Recycling, Canal Cruising Co, Star Private Hire & Rooftop Studios. As a self-funded, not-for-profit CIC their support is vital to keeping the festival going.
“We’d also show our gratitude to our hosts at Kibblestone Scout Camp – it was a fantastic temporary venue for the festival without which the future of the entire event would have been compromised. We are already planning the 2024 festival, and the goal remains to return to Westbridge Park so the festival is in the heart of Stone, where it belongs. However, the final – and biggest – vote of thanks must go to our amazing volunteers; without their tireless work this festival simply wouldn’t exist.”
If you are interested in getting involved in the 2024 Stone Food & Drink Festival as a volunteer, email email@example.com with ‘Volunteer’ in the subject. If you would like to find out more about sponsorship opportunities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org