With traditional food events off the agenda this summer, many Welsh food and drink producers have had to find other ways of reaching the public. This has resulted in several ‘virtual’ food events being set up across Wales.
Help with venturing into this new world is now available from Cywain - a programme designed and developed by Menter a Busnes that is dedicated to developing new and existing micro-businesses and SMEs in the Welsh food and drink sector.
Nia Ball, Cywain's Tourism and Hospitality Development Manager explains,
"We're delighted to now offer support to food festivals in Wales, whilst they are faced with the challenges which arise from being unable to hold their events this year.
“Many are having to adapt and introduce innovative ways to continue the momentum of their festivals and provide a new way to promote their usual food and drink business traders - from virtual food festivals to click and collect food hubs.
“And so, to support them in doing this, we're extending to them, the chance to access the free benefits and services that we've historically offered to food and drink businesses, including expert guidance on relevant topics and financial support towards eligible costs.
“It's great to see how we're already providing some support in the planning of what we're sure will be successful virtual food festivals."
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “The Welsh food and drink sector has reacted to the current crisis with a characteristically innovative spirit, and a readiness to take advantage of new ways of working.
“Virtual festivals such as these have been part of the sector’s response to the ongoing challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many events – not just in the food and drink world, but also in agriculture, such as this week’s Virtual Royal Welsh show – have had to be held digitally, in order to safeguard public health and minimise the risk of transmitting the virus.
“While these are no substitute for physical events, they still provide an excellent opportunity for stakeholders to meet and network, and I am very pleased that Cywain have been able to support businesses as they have looked to adopt these new, digitally-led methods.”
Taste of West Wales (August 1st)
In a few days, the virtual ‘doors’ will open at the Taste of West Wales Festival.
Instead of the public physically entering the Festival – as initially planned - through the gates of the National Botanic Garden of Wales, they will be able to enjoy the sights and sounds via the internet.
The voluntary-run event, says co-ordinator, Diana Vickers, has been born out of the need to create an alternative outlet for artisan producers who had planned to set up stall for a series of festivals during 2020 at the Botanic Garden in Llanarthne.
She says, “Stallholders had already signed up for the Spring Festival, and when it and the Summer Festival was cancelled we started to think outside of the box – and came up with holding a virtual Festival.”
The Festival will run on August 1st from 10 am – 4 pm on the Showcasing West Wales Facebook page, and Diana will act as master of ceremonies. She will guide visitors through the schedule to an inter-connecting ‘web’ of live chef demonstrations, craft workshops, and a host of producer videos and stalls.
The only stumbling block were the technical requirements of running a virtual event – which is where Cywain came in.
“I have never done this sort of thing before, but Cywain has been quite amazing and instantly grasped what we’re trying to do. It has been a symbiotic relationship. I asked if there was anyone who could tell me how to pull it all together and Nia quickly arranged for me to receive advice from a digital marketing specialist and Cywain have also supported us to engage the chefs.
“If this festival is successful we’d like to do more and maybe eventually keep going on a sustainable platform.”
More information: www.tasteofwestwales.co.uk
Gŵyl Fwyd Amgueddfa Cymru Food Festival (September 12th & 13th)
A firm favourite in the foodie calendar, each year the St Fagans Food Festival attracts thousands of people to the National Museum of History.
Organisers hope this year’s virtual event will be just as popular – and attract ‘visitors’ from far and wide.
Re-named the Gŵyl Fwyd Amgueddfa Cymru Food Festival, the event is a Wales-wide celebration of food and drink, and will feature a number of the National Museum of Wales sites – including St Fagans.
Over the two days there will be a variety of activities for all age ranges, which will be broadcast via different social media platforms.
On Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/events/278328393509516) there will be family-focused interactive ‘have a go’ events, while Instagram (museumwales) will have a more ‘festival vibe’ aimed at 18 to 30 year-olds.
Crowdcast will be home to a range of panel discussions and cooking demonstrations. Over on Twitter (@amgueddfacymru) museum curators will be doing a ‘Twitter Takeover’ to highlight some of the food-related items from the museum’s collection.
Cywain has supported a number of the events including cookery demonstrations and masterclasses, with more information available nearer the time from https://museum.wales/whatson/food-festival-2020/
Among the events is a Welsh Beer Tasting session, arranged in partnership with Cywain and conducted by real ale expert, Simon Martin who will be live streaming from his home in Barry.
Cywain have created a bespoke case of beer for the event which people will be able to pre-order should they wish to enjoy them during the streamed session.
Said Simon Martin, whose Real Ale Guide on Youtube has attracted over ten million views, “I’ve been running a virtual pub since lockdown. Rolant Tomos from Cywain contacted me, and I’m very much looking forward to the Gŵyl Fwyd Amgueddfa Cymru Food Festival.
“The beer scene in Wales is growing year on year and it is very important that we keep events like this going so 2020 doesn’t become a ‘forgotten year’.”
Mared Maggs, Head of Events at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales said, “We are grateful for the support we have received from Cywain as we embark on our first digital food festival. In these uncertain times, the partnership with Cywain has been invaluable. Their network of suppliers has allowed us to diversify our audiences and engage with producers across Wales.”
Most of the event programme is free, but some ticketed and paid-for activities need to be pre-booked. Information will be available in due course from https://museum.wales/whatson/food-festival-2020/
More information: https://museum.wales/whatson/food-festival-2020/