THIS Easter marks The Chester Food Drink and Lifestyle Festival’s 10th anniversary as the largest event of its kind happening anywhere in the UK.
When it started in 2001 it was based upon a mixture of events staged across the city to herald the restaurants, pubs and food retailers who made up the food and drink offer across the city.
Despite its influence across the UK the focus remains on supporting the producers and retailers of Chester and Cheshire.
The 2011 chairwoman, Jane Casson, who has been with the event since its inception, explained: “In Chester, we wanted a focal point of the year for our food and drink industry to look forward to and it was the hoteliers who pushed us to stage this event over Easter as traditionally accommodation rates had been poor for hotels during this time.
“I can remember former chairman Stephen Wundke saying at the first meeting that we needed to look ahead and believe that in time people would say across the UK, ‘It’s Easter, it must be the Chester Food and Drink festival’, and now in our tenth year with hotels across the city full, I think foodies everywhere know what’s happening in Chester this Easter.”
This year organisers believe it will take a full day to experience all of the events, live demonstrations and exhibitors on offer down at the racecourse.
Chester city management coordinator Stephen Wundke is excited about the weekend of activity and believes it will be a bumper time for the city.
He said: “I know that there is a real buzz around the town and with good weather forecast as many as 30,000 people will be attracted to the city.”
“It’s an amazing event and is targeted at exactly the type of person we want visiting Chester. I am delighted there is such a family focus and the relationships being developed by the event just seem to keep growing”.
This year sees 200 exhibitors and 450 people who support these businesses coming to Chester.
In addition there are more than 1,000 people coming to camp on the Roodee as part of the Camperfest, which will increase the staying numbers of the city by about a third.
There are another 2,000 people expected at the Beer and Winefest, which was recently added and then there are the vast numbers who visit the Food, Drink and Lifestyle Festival across the three days.
Jane Casson said: “We have always wanted families to eat together and be together as part of our festival ethos and to help with that, last year the Academy of Culinary Arts staged a series of cooking classes just for kids – these were massively oversubscribed and this year we have three times the capacity to cope in providing these free cooking classes for kids.