Food, glorious food as Thame tucks in at festival

Raymond Blanc gives a demonstration at the festival. Photos by Rebecca Fennell
Raymond Blanc gives a demonstration at the festival. Photos by Rebecca Fennell

Around 25,000 people flocked to Thame to enjoy a huge range of culinary delights and watch celebrity and local chef demonstrations at the town’s annual food festival.

More than 150 stall holders lined the streets and squares, with displays stretching from the High Street through Cornmarket to the Upper High Street, with more spurring off onto North Street.

Thame Food Festival

Thame Food Festival

Demonstrations were given by Raymond Blanc, Tom Kerridge, Adam Simmonds and Shaun Dickens, as well as Chris Godfrey from The Charles Napier in Chinnor and Nigel Rumsey of Rumsey’s Chocolaterie.

BBC Radio 2’s Ken Bruce and stand-up comic, food writer and beer expert Jim ‘Jams’ Davies acted as masters of ceremonies on Saturday (September 28).

TV chef and festival patron Lotte Duncan said: “Saturday was the most amazing day, a fabulous opportunity to enjoy real food and drink in the setting of a beautiful market town.

“I had the most fantastic feeling, standing there at the top of the High Street where all I could see were people milling about laden down with bags of food they’d bought, talking excitedly about what they were going to do with it.

Crowds enjoy one of the demonstrations at Thame Food Festival

Crowds enjoy one of the demonstrations at Thame Food Festival

“They’d come to have a really happy day out, sampling all the different artisan produce made with so much love and care, and enjoy the company of others who love the same thing.”

Food on offer ranged from pies, breads, cakes and vegetables to curries, slow-cooked Cotswold lamb, crèpes and ice creams.

Visitors could wash it all down with a cider or the special festival ale, Thame’In of the Brew, created by Brill’s Vale Brewery.

The Mayor of Thame, Councillor Peter Lambert, said: “The Thame Food Festival is brilliant.

“This year’s festival was very well organised by all involved.

“It’s a really good event and really good for Thame.”

Foodies also dug deep to help back causes the festival supports.

More than £4,000 was raised to be given to charities in the area by the Lions and the Rotary Club, to support the Thame Food Bank and to plough back into the community fund for next year’s festival.

Other Oxfordshire charities also benefited from having a free stall on the day, including SeeSaw, who collected more than £560 to help children who need support before or after a close family bereavement. Thame’s Helen and Douglas House hospice care for children and young adults was also well supported.

Ms Duncan said Thame will benefit in many ways from hosting such a popular festival which has ‘put the town on the map’.

She said: “Saturday showed us that the food festival is something people from far and wide are happy to travel to, and the whole town benefited from the crowds.

“Many of them will come back, to do their Christmas shopping or at any time of year, having seen what a wonderful place it is.”

Ms Duncan thanked everyone who helped organise the event.