Colmore Food Festival 2016

Lucy Elvin
Projects Maker

Now the Colmore Food Festival is over, I’m left feeling a real mix of emotions. I’m excited to start working on other projects now the Festival is no longer all consuming; I’m relieved it’s over and we can officially say it was once again a great success. But if I’m honest, I’m sad it’s over. It’s such a fun project to work on and all the teams involved are a joy to work with, from the venues that exhibit, to Eventmen who build the event for us and help with the planning, to the team at the Colmore BID office.

There’s only a really small team at the BID office, and thankfully we all love working on the Festival. It’s great fun to sit together and come up with new ideas, decide what entertainment we’re going to book, what the kitchen demos are going to be, and this year we made a significant change to the music offering. It was really exciting to put together a new programme of varied genres.

Historically, we’ve teamed up with Big Bear who put on the Birmingham and Solihull Jazz and Blues Festival every year. We have always coincided with the opening weekend of the Jazz Festival and have had some great artists perform on the music stage. This year, we decided we wanted to cater to more musical tastes and more importantly, to compliment the ‘local’ theme, we decided that we wanted to use acts and bands from the West Midlands. Even our PA company is based in Aston.

We’ve had loads of positive feedback about the bands and the variety. We kicked off with a String Trio; I’d love to do this again next year. They created a relaxed atmosphere – a great start to the first day! Throughout the day, we had performances from our very own choir, Colmore Chorus, a blues band, and Punch the Air who closed the first day of the festival with covers from The Beatles, Oasis, Kings of Leon and more.

On the same day, The Town Hall were having a music event over the same period as the Festival. This was a little problematic at first as some of our acts disturbed the students inside the Town Hall, but this was quickly resolved and, after inviting the Town Hall staff to come to our sound checks for the rest of the weekend, we headed off any more potential issues. It was also actually quite nice to work with them to find solutions and get to know the staff at Town Hall better.

On day two we had performances from On the Balcony, The Glamophones, The Taskers and Elements of Song from Aston Performing Arts Academy (APAA). APAA has just won a £2, 000 grant from Love Brum after winning the most votes in the most recent round of Love Brum funding. AAPA is a well deserving winner, working with young people and young talent.

Something else new for this year was having a sponsor. The Opus Family could be found in the heart of the festival in ‘The Opus Garden’. Ann Tonks and Irene Allen welcomed visitors to Bar Opus and Opus at Cornwall Street in this themed area. Opus also sponsored the music stage, proudly supporting local talent.

Then, of course, there was the food. True to form, a few venues sold out; Nosh and Quaff’s ribs, Jake’s sausage rolls and Purnell’s pork belly were all hugely popular and sold out on day two. There was such a great variety of food and drink on offer, there really was something for everyone. Gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options were all available. Not only could you eat your way around the Festival, guests also had the opportunity to watch how the dishes were prepared and cooked on the demo stage. Chefs from restaurants based in Colmore Business District showcased their talents and flair whilst being interviewed by our energetic compere

We try to vary our demos; we have cooking, cocktail making and this year for the first time, wine tasting with Tony and Nico from Hotel Du Vin. Guests could relax in the deckchairs whilst being treated to wine and cheese. There’s every chance they all went away having learned a thing or two about wine tasting and food pairing.

Over 30,000 people visited the Colmore Food Festival this year. It’s great to see so much support for local businesses, and rewarding to know that so many people get to enjoy the festival atmosphere.

So, on to next year. The dates are booked, so watch this space. The festival takes about nine months to plan, so between now and October, back at base we’ll be discussing how to improve again for 2017 and what we might change. It’s a great event, enjoyed by venues, visitors, and of course us. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the planning and making this event great again next year.