The thing I remember the most about Worstead Festival as a 12 year old, was the reading I received from a fortune teller. She told me that I’d become a famous dancer and that I’d make my first stage appearance in Southampton. Perhaps this was just a clever guess, but at the time it felt particularly magical considering she had no idea that I had been into ballet since I was very small.
I have many other fond memories of this large-scale family fete in the beautiful village of Worstead, so when we were offered tickets to attend this year’s event, I was keen to find out how things had changed.
As a foodie, the thing which excited me the most was the “Best of Norfolk” food marquee, where local award-winning chefs showcased their skills in the marquee. There were lots of local producers in the tent and it was lovely to chat to each of them and find out a little bit about their products. Here are some of my highlights:
Pye Bakers: These local artisan bakers supply their bread to various locations throughout Norfolk. They are one of the few artisan bakers in the county who produce sourdough bread like that found in Malta and Sicily, where my mother is from. Grimsby, the chap from Pye, did a cooking demonstration on how to make their Norfolk Apple Bun, a creation made to put Norfolk on the map and compete with the likes of the Chelsea bun and Eccles Cake. And news is starting to spread – Norwich’s Pye Baker’s Apple Bun has been included in a new foodie book called A Slice of Britain, written by Sunday Times bestselling author Caroline Taggart.
Norfolk Cordial: Using only natural ingredients, Norfolk Cordial has concocted a selection of beautiful drinks with low sugar content and stunning floral hues. They source local produce from farms to make the finest fruit cordials and drinks. Absolutely divine!
Winbirri Vineyards: Producers of award-winning wines, this family run vineyard and winery is set in twenty-five acres of beautiful Norfolk countryside. Available in several outlets across Norfolk including Jarrolds, Le Chateau on Unthank Road and from one of my favourite restaurants in Norwich, Roots. With notes of elderflower, their Bacchus wine was reminiscent of a cool, crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
The festival has been going since the 1960s and next year marks its 50th anniversary. It’s grown in scale over the years from a village fete to a larger more commercial festival. However three years ago, the organisers made a decision to make an about turn and decided to take the festival back to its roots of homespun fun and traditional activities, including: medieval games, weavers in the church, dog and duck herding, birds of prey, vintage vehicles, art shows, water rocket games, face painting and of course, Samanda the medium. Now, I was tempted to speak to Samanda and ask what happened to the career as a famous dancer, but I resisted.
Above: Ronaldo’s Rum ‘n Raisin Ice Cream.
If you’re from the region, or visiting next July, I really recommend you give it a whirl If you haven’t already. Tickets are only £5 per person and free for kids under 12. Weekend tickets are also available.
For details visit http://www.worsteadfestival.org, see the Worstead Festival Facebook page or follow @worsteadfest on Twitter.