Foodies Festival Fiasco
Normally I like to keep things positive. But sometimes things are so bad they need to be written up exactly as they were.
No doubt the weather put a damper on the event but my trip to the Edinburgh Foodies Festival last Saturday will probably ensure I wouldn’t attend a similar event again unless I could be persuaded it would be significantly better.
The photos give a flavour of the prestigious location in Holyrood Park, adjacent to Holyrood House (and the Scottish Parliament buildings), overlooked by the famous Salisbury Crag at Arthur’s Seat and in the distance the iconic Calton Hill landmarks.
Some friends, whom we later discovered had also attended the event completely independently from us, were of the same mind. Indeed they left prior to lunch to find somewhere else to eat. Imagine that. They left a food festival to go and find somewhere better to eat!
Heavy rain on preceding days had turned the grass field at Holyrood Park into quagmire. An overcast sky and several downpours that underperformed a more optimistic weather forecast kept the ground soggy and the mud tramping around. Straw had been scattered around to help improve the surface. After leaving the event it was interesting to see straw and muddy clumps all the way to at least half way up the Royal Mile, which is a fair distance.
The event itself was a disappointment quite apart from the weather.
Having arrived in time for lunch with eager anticipation, the choice of food should have been good but the initial walk around the smaller than expected event seemed to only offer a choice of overpriced burgers (and the usual variants) from vans that could have been at any festival type of event, minus the event. It was akin to being at “T in the Park”, complete with mud, only there was no music or other attractions, just the burger vans corralled in a field with massive queues at them all.
We did settle on the Levi Roots “Reggie Reggie Sauce” stall. After squidging through the mud and around the puddles, I had a chicken wrap that was tasty enough but not much different to what could have been purchased in Subway or other fast food outlets, perhaps for less money. I guess you are paying for the brand name and “the experience”. To be fair to Levi Roots their prices seemed cheaper than many of the other of the options available at other stalls.
I wont speculate here as to why my partner, who normally has the “stomach of an ox”, had a “dose of the runs” later in the day.
The entry tickets to the foodie festival were £12, although fortunately we had obtained a discounted price of £4 via a web deal which served to slightly mitigate the disappointment of the event.
There were numerous talks and demonstrations that may have been interesting but they were all fully booked, except for a couple that were of little interest very late in the day, so that was a non event. Crowds of people massing around any gaps in the function tent walls prevented any access to spy on what was happening. There had been promises of famous chefs and personalities but I can’t say I saw or recognised any.
There was an outdoor stage that provided some “live” musical entertainment but it was of such low calibre that it was almost too painful for listening and some of it almost too painful to watch. There was a band where one guy was dressed only in what looked like his underpants and a very loose open “raincoat” playing what looked like a plastic Casio keyboard. Ouch.
There were numerous tents or display features selling various types of alcohol or distributing freebies, which might have been fine if you fancied a booze up. Certainly good food and good drink are complementary but you’d need to be very fast or very smart to get any of the free samples which occasionally appeared.
On a sunnier day it would have been ideal to relax and enjoy the atmosphere.
There was a cluster of perhaps 2 or 3 dozen stalls offering a variety of food products, some of which may have been a “bit different”. Being in Edinburgh though, there are all sorts of “different” shops and there are often street markets offering food from around the world at different times of year, without having to pay an entrance fee.
My final point (rant) is about the toilet facilities. Apparently “health and safety” closed the place down for several hours due to concerns about the muddy ground on the opening day. Perhaps they should also have taken a look at the toilets while they were there. They weren’t too bad as these things go apart from the fact there was no running water to wash your hands, never mind hot water or soap. Now given it was a food event and that exhibitors as well as the public would be exchanging money & handling food, the fact that you pushed the taps expecting them to work only served to ensure you shared the germs of any who “went before” and your own germs with any who would come after. Say no more.
It looked great on their website. The event is a great concept but the implementation was poor.
It was a bit like being caught up in what I imagine a bad episode of an event organised by the losing team of “The Apprentice” TV show could be like.
If it had been fine weather it might not have seemed so bad. But I had expected a festival billed for “Foodies” to provide an exemplary and inspirational culinary experience befit for lovers of good food, not just a range of overpriced burger vans, market stalls, booze tents and over-subscribed “feature” events.