Thousands enjoy a food and drink paradise as Melton’s festival returns in style
Seven thousand people poured into Melton’s livestock market over the weekend to enjoy this year’s annual East Midlands Food Festival.
After last year’s event was a casualty of the Covid pandemic, it returned in spectacular fashion with a huge range of food and drink products available to buy or just taste test.
Alongside the traditional favourite pies, pastries and cheeses from the UK, visitors got a chance to try some more exotic delicacies including foot-long Polish grilled sausages and Dutch waffles.
Everywhere you walked on the livestock market site your senses were assaulted by delightful aromas from the dozens of stands.
Among the busiest stands was that of Samosa Wallah, a Melton producer of the Indian cuisine favourite which was launched in 2017.
Customers were greeted by co-founder Keran Turakhia, resplendent in his colourful silk suit with royal turban and bright pointed shoes.
Keran, whose cooked lamb, chicken and vegan products are sold in shops, cafes and pubs throughout the region and beyond, told the Melton Times: “We are doing really well - people seem to love our samosas.
“Our dream is that we want to make Melton Mowbray as famous for samosas as it is for pork pies and Stilton cheese.
“There is some history behind it because in the 19th century Indian royalty used to hang out with English royalty and nobility in Melton and they ate these samosas together.”
Visitors were fascinated by the stand for Feast and the Furious, a Melton business which specialises in smoking a wide range of products to produce unique tastes.
The producer is a fixture at the town’s weekly farmers’ markets and there was plenty of interest from people eager to try out food such as award-winning smoked vegan cheese and smoked pork pies.
Graham Oaks, father of the founder, Jon, said: “We’ve done well at the festival.
“There is no other producer like us because we smoke everything and people want to taste the products.
“It’s good to have the food festival back because we’ve missed these events during the pandemic.
“We managed to keep going during the lockdowns because the farmers’ markets were kept open thankfully.”
Bowring Butchers also sell their products at the farmers market, which is open every Tuesday and Friday mornings.
Their Nottinghamshire-based business has had a huge boost after its meat and potato pie scooped the Supreme Champion honour at the recent British Pie Awards, held in the town.
Sarah Meeham said: “It’s been quite a good festival for us all round.
“Of course, winning the pie awards has helped us become better known, it’s been amazing for the business.”
There was plenty to wash the food down at the festival with the Round Corner Brewing tap room doing good business on the site.
The stands for Old Vodka, Sloeberry Spirits and Blueberry Wine had lots of activity.
And the team at the Multum Gin Parvo - a company based in Rutland - said there was no let up in the popularity of gin.
Visitors to the stall were tasting some of their gins, which include Earl Grey and Rutland Honey and the Migration Gin, where a proportion of sales revenue is donated to a nature conservation charity, the Osprey Leadership Foundation.
Katy Smith, who was on the stall with Elizabeth Louch, said: “We now have five gins and it’s good to be able to show them off at this festival.
“The popularity of gin is still going strong.”
The festival also gave visitors a chance to do some early Christmas shopping with a selection of non-food stands, including the Foxy Lots souvenir and gift business, which is based in King Street,
After touring the dozens of stalls there was a chance to take a break from eating and shopping by sitting in the Food Theatre to enjoy a presentation by Dickinson and Morris ambassador Stephen Hallam on the history of the iconic Melton pork pie and a demonstration on how to hand-raise them.
Other presenters included TV chef Rachel Green, celebrated home cook Teresa Bovey and the locally-raised Marianne Lumb, a former BBC MasterChef finalist.
Organiser, Matthew O’Callaghan, told the Melton Times: “It was a great festival. despite Covid, the fuel shortage, the weather, and everything that could be thrown at us it went ahead and everyone had a brilliant day out.
“Saturday was wet so we had lower numbers but Sunday was a cracking day with the sunshine.
“Overall we had up to about 7,000 people attended and lots of kids, who could come along for free.
“We had a good number of producers who had very good trading and they were very good to be back in Melton.”
The next big foodie event in the town is the combined ChocFest and PieFest, on November 13 and 14, which will also be at the livestock market.