Mick Starr is a butcher from Emsworth in Hampshire. Over the weekend of 14-16 September, some 55,000 people descended on the village for the Emsworth Food Festival, which has grown enormously since its inception in 2001. He reflects on the benefits a
nd annoyances of the event.
"When it first started, the festival was excellent. All the food shops in the village had stalls and small outside companies would come in to sell products like olives or wines. This year, it was bigger than ever and there was a lovely atmosphere, with the Royal Marines band and street entertainment. We've always been lucky with weather as well, ever since it started.
"But sometimes, it has been a victim of its own success. There were 55,000 people here and all the roads had to be closed, so the people who live in Emsworth couldn't get in and out of the village. I am also annoyed by how other shops that have nothing to do with food - hairdressers, for example - have seen how well our barbecue stall does and have been setting up their own. What they sell isn't local food. They go to the cash-and-carry, buy a box of frozen burgers for £5, then sell a burger in a bun for £2.50 each.
"Our barbecue stall does do well though. We sell sausages, burgers and rump steak, all from the shop, and often people will have something from the barbecue, then come into the shop to buy some fresh meat."
Want more stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up for our FREE email newsletter