New exhibitors at the Isle of Man Food & Drink Festival reflect the innovation happening in the sector.
That is the comment from Geoffrey Boot, Member of the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture with responsibility for food, ahead of this year’s festival at the Villa Marina Gardens on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th September.
Mr Boot said: ‘It is good to see so many exhibitors who are either new to food and drink production or are using quality local ingredients to expand their businesses with new products.
‘Through its Food Matters strategy and its revised funding scheme, the Department is supporting those who are new to the food and drink sector or are diversifying their product range and the festival is the best possible showcase for these wares.’
Farmers Billy and Kirree Callow, of Andreas, will launch a new product at the festival, where they have their own stand for the first time.
Under the label The Dairy Shed, they are producing thick, creamy yoghurts using milk from their award-winning Ayrshire dairy herd.
Kirree said: ‘With other farmers, we promoted the dairy industry at the 2015 festival and we saw a real opportunity to diversify into on-farm production, providing tasty and healthy dairy products.
‘It’s great to see the increasing popularity of high quality, locally produced food and drink and we’re really excited to be involved in this year’s festival as new exhibitors.’
Among those taking part in the festival for the first time is Dave’s Delicious Dogs, run by American Dave Valkema.
He wanted to bring his home nation’s ‘most iconic food’ to the Island.
He said: ‘There's a good hot dog cart or seller on almost every street corner in my native Chicago. Even though I’m a reinsurance syndicate owner and underwriter, I started this company because I wanted to share with my Manx and British friends why Americans love their hot dogs so much.
‘I want to show folks here on the Island that a good, authentic American-style hot dog can be created out of the magnificent Manx meat produced here by hard-working farmers.’
Another first-time exhibitor is Stixx, makers of gelato sticks and fresh fruit ice lollies using high quality local and Italian ingredients.
Creator Rory Dorling said: ‘The festival is a great event for us to enhance our brand awareness among a specific, food-related audience.
‘The Island has a growing number of new artisan food providers, allowing residents and visitors to enjoy a wide range of high quality products. Sourcing ingredients locally supports other industries on the Island and benefits the economy.’
Paddy’s Hooked on Fish/The Fish Market by Robinson’s is another first-time participant in the festival. Matty Mathieson-Nelson said: ‘We have some great food and drink produced here on the Island. The festival is a great way of showcasing what the Island has to offer.’
Tickets for the festival, which is sponsored by Magnet IOM Ltd, cost just £3 (day) and £5 (weekend) for adults, with admission free for under 16s.
Tickets can be booked via www.villagaiety.com
For more information about the festival, visit www.gov.im/food, follow the festival on Facebook via Isle of Man Food and Drink Festival 2016 and on Twitter @iomfoodanddrink
On Saturday 17th September, a free Mann Sightseeing shuttle bus runs from The Bowl car park, Pulrose, to the festival, departing on the hour from 10am to 4pm and returning on the half hour. Many buses from the south of the Island also pass the Villa Marina Gardens.
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