THE Isle of Man Food and Drink Festival proved a great success at the weekend as more than 5,000 people visited the event at Knockaloe, Patrick.
Visitors to the festival, which is in its fourth year, thoroughly enjoyed meeting TV chef Ainsley Harriott on Saturday.
He gave two exciting cookery demonstrations in a packed Manx Food Theatre, signed cookery books and entertained the crowds watching the final of the ‘I Love Manx Chef of the Year’ competition.
The event was won by Richard Hooper of L’Experience in Douglas, who beat off stiff competition from Rich Ashcroft of the Patchwork Cafe in Port St Mary.
Ainsley presented an engraved plaque to Ballakilley Farms, Bride, who won the Festival’s Best Presented Stand award.
Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture Minister Phil Gawne MHK said: ‘My department runs this festival to provide an opportunity for Manx food and drink producers to promote their products and for visitors to find out about the diversity of quality food and drink which is produced here.
‘I congratulate the exhibitors for their hard work in providing an excellent selection of local produce and I thank visitors for supporting them through their interest and purchases.
‘Not only do local food and drink producers make an important contribution to the local economy, they provide us with some very enjoyable and innovative tastes and I hope to see even more quality produce develop in time.’
On Sunday, Steve Colley and Dot Tilbury put on a spirited performance as they cooked omelettes and exchanged saucy banter under the watchful eye of Chef Tony Quirk.
Other weekend highlights included the launch of Stay on a Farm’s new accommodation brochure, a fabulous ice sculpture of a Loaghtan ram created by Stephanie Jackson, milking demonstrations in the Manx National Farmers’ Union’s Farm in the festival marquee, which attracted more than 120 people on Saturday alone, and an entertaining treasure hunt for young visitors run by the Living Hope Community Church.
A wide range of quality Manx produce was on sale and visitors enjoyed tasting as well as the opportunity to buy direct from producers.
Many exhibitors reported excellent sales and orders – and some sold out completely.
Shoprite promoted their sales of Manx meat and gave away money off vouchers for people to redeem within their stores around the island.
Gary Cregeen, sales and marketing manager for Manx Gas, Gold sponsor of the festival, said: ‘The attendance figures for the festival speak for themselves and Manx Gas is proud and delighted for the third year running to have sponsored what has clearly become such a successful event.
‘The festival is not only a focal point for the island’s communities over two great fun-packed days but it has also become a blue riband showcase for its produce and crafts.’