Darlington Food Festival - Paul Rankin
Darlington Food Festival 2009 - the Marquees
With Sandy and AJ, I went down to the Food Fair in the Market Place this lunchtime.
It was a great event, and a real showcase for the excellent local and regional producers we have in this part of the North East. The big draw was a series of demonstrations by "TV chef" Paul Rankin - his technical prowess seemed to be going down very well with the healthy crowd.
We brought back cheese, oil and biscuits. I got some sublime smoked veal sausages from Archers in Walworth (just don't tell Sandy...!)
This isn't a universal view of the event, however - my blogging colleague and LibDem councillor Mike Barker lays into "council bean counters" because adults had to pay £3 to get into the fair. For good measure, he supposes that the council will "lie" about the numbers of stalls and people attending. Apparently, Darlington residents "won't pay money for events like this."
Strong stuff. As regular readers will have gathered, I don't like using the "l" word. Even about the FibDems.
Anyway, rather than rely on what Mike or I say about the event, I shot some film so you can all make up your own minds. My conversations with stall holders were for the most part different, and more positive, than Mike. But then, I'm a Labour politician, so I must be lying.
What I do find hard to stomach is being lectured by a senior opposition councillor about council "bean counters". Putting on the event isn't cheap. The marquee has to be hired, the staff engaged, the publicity printed and the celebrity engaged (without all of this, it would simply be another monthly Farmers' Market, and wouldn't have attracted stall holders from across the region).
I don't know how the finances of the Food Fair worked out exactly, but in these difficult times, DBC staff were simply trying to put on a great event without imposing too much strain on council finances. Not good enough for the LibDems, who presumably would have wanted a budget-busting free event costing tens of thousands. And they then would have been the first to line up and slag us off for "wasteful" expenditure come year end.
As a late, great Fleet Street journalist would doubtlessly have said, "Pass the sick-bag, Alice".