The Ludlow Food Festival is going virtual this year and it’s free

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Written byClaire Hunte

Hannah James, Events Manager, Ludlow Food Festival talks to LGL about moving the event to digital (for now), the headliners, the challenges and finding the silver lining. She also discusses the revamped Friends of Ludlow Food Festival initiative with supporters receiving added benefits depending on the level of donation.

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There is a strong line up for the Virtual Event hosted at Redford Farm Barns, right here in the South Shropshire countryside, with content available via social media throughout 11-13 September. Regulars from our very popular Fire Kitchen stage will join: Shropshire Lad, Adam Purnell, recently announced as one of BBC Good Food’s Top 10 Game Changers;  Marcus Bean, Festival Director, and a regular on the stages at the BBC Good Food show; best selling author Genevieve Taylor  and Andy Stubbs Low N’Slow who specialises in Texan inspired open fire cooking. All will cook over live fire in Kadai Firebowls. A number of key local food and drink producers will also come along to chat all things food and Ludlow with Marcus Bean.

The virtual event is free to access online via our social media (and later via blogs on our website), but hope people will make donations in lieu of the normal entrance ticket, or to show their support by becoming a Friends of Ludlow Food Festival supporter.

1. The Ludlow Food Festival like a lot of other major events in 2020 is going online how are you dealing with the task of bringing a show known for its physical presence here in Ludlow to a virtual audience? 

We are learning a lot! We took some time researching other virtual events, working out what would work best for us and appeal to our audience the most. We won’t be doing hours and hours of ticketed live demos instead, we’ll be taking the chance to focus on some key elements of the Festival, which will be available at no cost to the viewers, and also launching our new Friends of Ludlow Food Festival. The Festival is facing a very uncertain future, so this is a chance to raise much-needed funds through the Friends.

Adam Purnell one of BBC Good Food’s Top 10 Game Changers and our very own Shropshire Lad

Adam Purnell one of BBC Good Food’s Top 10 Game Changers and our very own Shropshire Lad

Over the virtual weekend, we’ll have the fantastic Adam Purnell (our very own Shropshire Lad) who’s going to be joined by some excellent fire chefs, cooking over Kadai Firebowls and holding the whole event at Redford Farm Barns, just outside Ludlow. We’ll also be highlighting some of our key food and drink producers in conversation with local chef Marcus Bean. So while it won’t be what we normally do by any means, we’ll be making some of the key elements of the Festival available online, and have now launched the Friends of Ludlow Food Festival.

2. Is there a silver lining to all of this for the LFF? What are some of the challenges and the benefits of going virtual?

There’s always a silver lining — just that sometimes it’s harder to find! There have been all sorts of challenges already, the main one being that our reserves are dwindling, so while we’d love to be able to offer all sorts of fabulous extras, we just can’t. A huge benefit is launching the Friends of Ludlow Food Festival — we’re really excited about this; a chance for people to support us in return for some fantastic goodies (from discounted tickets to behind the scenes tours). Full information is on our website.

3. How are the food and drink producers and suppliers responding to the new virtual reality for LFF this year?

The support has been brilliant, so many offers of help from every corner. We are very lucky to have a huge number of food and drink producers on hand to help us bring to life a little taste of what we’d normally do.

4. What are some of the highlights LFF fans can look forward to and what will newcomers discover at the digital event this year?

I’m excited to see Adam Purnell cooking over the Kadai Firebowls — he’s a huge supporter of the Festival, the food producers and he always puts on a show! The demos and conversations from the virtual event will be available across our social media and website, so people can dip in whenever they like, it’ll give a really good overview of what we do here at Ludlow. Nothing will ever compare to having the Castle full to the brim of visitors, watching demos and engaging with food producers but, hopefully, we can do that another time!

5. I know you don’t have a crystal ball but with our new reality of potential lockdowns: are you preparing all future events as a physical event that can pivot to digital? Is this what attendees should also prepare for?

Ludlow Food Festival past: Hoping for future albeit smaller events

Ludlow Food Festival past: Hoping for future albeit smaller events

Here at Ludlow, we feel it’s really important to try, wherever possible, to connect visitors with food producers — that’s where the conversations, the education and the interest are all sparked. A virtual event just won’t ever deliver that same experience. As long as it’s safe for everyone involved, a physical event is what we are focussing on delivering at some point, albeit smaller than we may have had in the past. We’ve been looking at all sorts of options for the future — but for now, we remain optimistic and look forward to a future that isn’t completely digital!



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