Waterford Harvest Festival thrills the crowds and the taste buds!

For three days, the Waterford Harvest Festival brought a smorgasbord of wonderful food, tantalising aromas, vibrant colour and great live music to the streets of Waterford city.

Some blustery winds and intermittent showers didn’t deter the huge crowds who came to the Viking Triangle, Ballybricken and the city centre to taste the best of local produce and meet the stallholders, food producers, growers, craftspeople, chefs, community gardeners and entertainers who are integral to the Waterford Harvest Festival.

Festival Director, Tommie Ryan was delighted with the festival and the reaction to the programme.

“As this year’s festival is in its ninth year we had a great base to work from.  The food producers’ stalls, demonstrations and workshops are always popular and this year was no exception.  The addition of new dining events to the Festival was positively received, with the Olive Tree’s Opening Banquet, La Boheme’s Miyazaki Japanese feast and the Bay Tree Bistro’s Closing event all completely sold out.  I think these type of dining events accurately reflects the breadth of talent, passion and creativity of Waterford’s chefs and restaurateurs.”

For those not lucky enough to get tickets for the dining events, some of Munster’s top chefs demonstrated their skills in producing great dishes using local produce during the Dawn Meats Festival demos in Palace Square, while the GastoGays entertained a large audience during their Brunch Demo by creating inspiring and tasty brunches with the best of local ingredients.

Ballybricken was a hive of activity on Saturday and Sunday as the “top of the town” harked back to its traditional days as a livestock hub. The City Farm gave families the opportunity to meet some farm animals and see sheep-shearing and cow milking demonstrations. Live music, vintage tractor displays and Agri Aware’s mobile farm brought the Ballybricken of yore to life and Special Branch’s inspirational wood carving demonstrations wowed young and old.  Junior HQ provided the younger Harvesters with the tools and advice to sow and grow, try their hand at drama and even make their own kites.

Tommie added, “The Festival Market on the Mall was busy all weekend as visitors got to sample great food from all over the region. The iconic Applemarket was the ideal setting for the Applemarket Street Food event as local restaurants put on a Harvest feast that impressed the large crowd in attendance. Afternoon Tea at the Granary was a sumptuous affair. Free breakfasts at the Pip and Pear pop-up restaurant and the Flahavan’s Fit Family Breakfast at the Granary Café were a big hit with families and the events catering for our younger audience, such as WIT’s Calmast, Artstorm, Baby HQ Livewell and the screening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory went down a treat!”

During the festival visitors could meet the producers and find out about the food journey from farm to fork, plot to plate with events such as LEO’s Meet the Makers, Skillnet’s Taste of Food and Craft and GIY’s Grow Eat Cook and the return of the Blaa-eating competition was eagerly anticipated.

“The Blackwater Gintastic lunch trail proved very popular while the After Dark events carried the festivities into the evening with the Metalman Rocks Craft Beer festival, whiskey and gin tastings and the Thin Gin river tours.”

According to Ryan the success of the festival is down to several factors.  “We are lucky to have such great support from our sponsors and Waterford City and County Council.  Each year local businesses get behind the festival and that gives us the impetus to introduce a wide, varied and exciting programme each year.  The vision of our talented chefs and restaurateurs, the hard work and dedication of our region’s producers, exhibitors and volunteers and the superb support from the community are invaluable in making the Harvest Festival a success.”