Tribute has been paid to the intrepid residents of Wiltshire who trudged through the heavy rain showers and mud to enjoy themselves at Marlborough’s first food and wine festival held on the Common at the weekend.
“It was good for Marlborough, a positive event and despite the weather and the downpours people were remarkable resilient,” Councillor Guy Loosmore, Marlborough’s Mayor, told the Town Council on Monday.
“It was really packed out on Saturday when I was there and that’s not something that happens every Saturday. Let’s hope the food festival comes back next year, which will bring more people into the town and be good for its economy.”
And festival organiser John Rhodes told Marlborough News Online: “The positive response from the public was absolutely brilliant.
“Considering the weather and deluge of rain we’re happy with the results. We had a very good turn out. The exhibitors all reported that they did well.
“The rain that did come down made it very muddy underfoot but I am encouraged that people came despite all that. They’re a hardy lot, intrepid despite everything.”
And he added: “I must admit I saw one lady who turned up in high heels and a gentleman who arrived in flipflops. But what can you say to them?”
He happened to be at the box office when one well dressed man arrived with his wife on Sunday seeking to speak to the organisers and he feared the visitor wanted to make a complaint.
“I told him I was the organiser with a team of people and he responded, ‘I just want to tell you how brilliant it is’,” John recalled. “And we had comments like that from so many people who thoroughly enjoyed the festival. So we we’re definitely happy about that.”
Mr Rhodes and his team, who organise the Cheltenham Food and Wine Festival, had supplies of straw from a local farmer to distribute round the festival site to mop up the rain, though some areas became distinctly seriously slippery underfoot.
So too were parts of the Common where hundreds of cars were parked, some becoming trapped in the mud. But again Mr Rhodes had organised at his own expense for a farmer to bring his 4×4 to tow away vehicles stuck in some of the ruts.
And he also confronted an objection from a nearby resident who complained about the low hum emanating from the festival’s so called “silent” electricity generators, the complainant at the same time saying how he and his wife enjoyed the food they consumed.
“Something we seriously learned was that we were in the countryside and when you are there at night up on the Common it is so quiet,” explained John. “Most days there is a breeze. So if there is any noise then it will be blown down on to the residents who live nearby.”
Will the festival – there were more than 100 exhibitor stalls plus a host of major celebrity events – return next year?
“We certainly hope so,” declared John. “What we do need to do is move the site further up the Common as the area we were in is on a slope and all the rainwater drains down to it.
“I need to negotiate with the town council about whether that is at all possible.”