“We have such an incredible line-up of events this year, it’s very exciting,” Thame Food Festival director Lotte Duncan tells me.
“Mary Berry will be there on Saturday for a book signing and live interview, followed by a demo by Alex Holywood (Paul Hollywood’s ex-wife), which is a slightly controversial pairing!”
“We also have some of the country’s leading chefs and bakers including Briony May, Stephen Carter Bailey, Ping Combes and Jane Devonshire.
“Local chefs include Lucie Greenwood from The Milkshed and Ryan and Liam Simpson-Trotman from Orwells. Such an amazing array of people.”
“We are introducing a brand new BBQ area – the Kamado Joe Fire Show – with their full BBQ Fire Squad putting on the ultimate show with masterclasses and workshops. And boyband United Vibe are appearing – fresh from their X Factor experience and featuring local Elliot Horne.”
What started as a town council initiative 12 years ago, has taken off beyond all expectations Thame now being one of the country’s most popular food festivals.
Situated in the Thame Show Ground instead of the town centre for practical reasons, organisers are hoping for 25,000 visitors this weekend, compared to 18,000 last year.
“We are smack bang in the middle of British Food Fortnight run by Love British Food which means a lot because that’s what Thame Food Festival is all about.
“We have to support our British producers, because with Brexit we just don’t know what is going to happen, and we have to make sure they keep going.
“Our artisan producers work so hard and have such a great work ethic, it’s very humbling. So if we can help them with their footfall then I am happy,” Lotte says.
“But as people spend the whole day there, we need to keep them occupied so we have a live music stage now.”
There’s a children’s kitchen, with ten half hour slots for 25 children in each which you can book on the day, a Pop up Pub and a Botanical Gin Garden plus a Street Food area, workshops, bake offs, an artisan food market with ver 100 artisan producers, and all day music from the Henley Hillbillies, as well as a dog show and demonstrations.
Magimix are also hugely involved this year with a demonstration stage and marquee, and there is a shuttle bus to take people to the show ground sponsored by Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, as well as lots of free parking.
“First and foremost it’s about food,” food writer and presenter Lotte adds, ‘but more than anything it’s about showcasing British produce.
“So perhaps what I’m most proud of is our Thame Food Festival Bursary which last year went to Lisa Hartwright from Tess’ Brilliant Bakes and this year it’s Ozi Lala.
Last year’s winner, Lisa Hartwright has had a busy year since. Originally a sideline business selling to friends and family, Lisa has given up her day job to bake full-time and has gradually extended her range to include various cookies, tray bakes, loaf cakes, cupcakes and larger cakes.
“The win was a huge boost to my confidence, “says Lisa. “I had almost reached the point of giving up any idea of starting a business,” she adds.
Thame Food Festival opens on Saturday from 9am-6pm and on Sunday from 10am-5pm
It’s £6 on the door and children under 16 are free.
“We are really trying our hardest to get as many people through the door as possible by making it a really affordable day out. So come along,” Lotte adds.