Melton’s PieFest shows why its the UK’s biggest pie festival
Pie-lovers converged on Melton at the weekend to sample all manner of tasty offerings and some producers even attracted interest from Harrod’s in stocking their products in its iconic London store.
The occasion was the fourth annual PieFest, at the town’s livestock market, where visitors got the chance to enjoy talks, tastings, demonstrations and even workshops on how to make the perfect pie.
Some from further afield said they were attracted to the event after watching last month’s BBC1 documentary, Life of Pies, which featured the town’s hosting of the annual British Pie Awards.
Organiser Matthew O’Callaghan said PieFest was now firmly established as the biggest festival of pies anywhere in the UK.
He said: “As well as a great event for the public it is now a huge showcase for the producers and their pies.
“Most producers said they sold virtually all of their stock over the two days, which is great.
“We had a buyer from Harrod’s there for the first time and one of the producers told me they had got the magic call to say they were interested in stocking their pies as a result of tasting them at PieFest.
“I believe Harrod’s showed an interest in the pies of two or three producers from the weekend, which would be the equivalent of winning the lottery for those businesses.”
Persistent rain kept numbers lower than hoped for but it was still a good turnout, with more attending on the Saturday.
A number of local piemakers attended, including Old Dalby-based Nice Pies, with offering such as champagne and truffle pies, ham hock pie, and some ‘Pie-sties’.
The company’s co-founder, Phil Walmsley said: “It was very pleasing for us to see the Harrod’s buyer taking away a bag of our pies and we are hopeful they might start selling them.
“It was a good show for us again with a lot of interest in our new steak and hickory barbecue gravy pies and our pork pies.
“People know our name from when we appeared on Jamie Oliver’s TV show which always helps bringing people to our stand.”
Brockleby’s, of Asfordby Hill, also had a successful show with manager Amanda Jalland commenting: “We were at a few events at the weekened but PieFest outperformed them all.
“Matthew has built a really good show and it helps that visitors don’t have to pay a lot of money to get in.
“Out steak and stilton pies went down well and there was also a lot of interest in our Ali Baa Baa pies, which are like a lamb tagine in a pie.”
There was plenty of interest at the Cossack Pies stand with their some of their pies made from recipes their ancestors served to the Tsar of Russia.
Visitors also made a beeline for the Deakins stall, where their gold award-winning lamb, mushy pea and mint pie from the British Pie Awards, which featured on the recent BBC programme, was being offered for tasting and to buy.
And, of course, there were plenty of Melton pork pies being displayed for sale and taste, with Dickinson and Morris doing good business over the two days.
Cakes, pastries, cheeses and chutneys were among the other mouth-watering treats being offered up, with beer and locally-produced Ferneley’s ice cream to cool everyone down.
Organiser Mr O’Callaghan added: “PieFest has only been going four years but it’s already the largest pie festival in the country.
“It has been difficult with it being a summer show, when you are competing with many other events and people are away on their holidays.
“But it is going really well and is now well established - we already do thriving shows for cheese and for chocolate so we have to do a good show for pies with our tradition for pies in this town.”