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A Taste of the Landscape is the latest in a series of annual one or two week festivals highlighting different features of the AONB. Previous festivals have focused on Wildflowers, Walking, Woodlands, Wetlands and Wildlife. Festivals are run at different times of year depending on theme.
The aims of the AONB’s festivals are to encourage
A Taste of the Landscape was held in July 2015, and again in May/June 2016 as we felt there was more mileage in the idea. Greater preparation time enabled a wider range of events, new contacts to run events, and spring seasonal products to feature. Festivals are a mixture of events organised by the AONB unit and by other organisations, publicised by the AONB Partnership,
We chose the 2016 festival dates in September 2015 and informed local businesses, partners and groups. Reminder sent in December.
In January we sent forms to event organisers requesting details for the printed programme, with a deadline of early February to enable leaflet distribution before Easter and maximise repeat visit opportunities at half term (which the festival overlapped).
Contacts are encouraged to arrange events specifically for the festival, but also to submit regular events happening during the festival, to give a broader offer.
We also arranged events under the AONB banner; this year an Orchard Ramble, Family Herbal Ramble, Farm Open Day, The Beekeeping Year talk and tasting, Bitter and Butterflies – a butterfly ramble ending at the local brewery, and a Herbal Ramble.
The variety of events is broad: a family nature trail about local birds’ and animals’ favourite foods at RSPB Leighton Moss, an open day at the Coppice Co-op’s woodyard, a tour of the local flour mill, a display of locally sourced yarn, the regular craft and local produce market – anything that fits the theme!
In the run up to the festival:
Events were successful, and feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
The farm open day, on the Wednesday of half term had 60 attendees. It was very well organised by the farmer, with a milking demonstration, opportunity to see the young calves, watch a mini sheepdog trial and meet the farm pig! The coastal foraging workshop organised by a partner organisation was a sell-out. The corn mill’s monthly tour and taste session had 50 attendees, significantly higher than normal numbers.
Wherever possible, a member of the AONB team attended events, with feedback postcards, festival programmes and our Discover the AONB leaflets and maps to spread the word about other things to see and do in the area.
Some attendees we had met before, some were brand new to us – we attribute this to the events posted on Facebook and running family events during half term.
Following on from the 2015 festival, we ensured that we contacted potential event organisers early, to give them enough time to factor the festival into their 2016 event planning. This also enabled us to produce and distribute the leaflets early, to publicise the festival to Easter holiday daytrippers, so they could plan to return.
Organising family events during the Easter holidays opened up a new audience.
Developing closer working relationships with producers helped us to coordinate festival events and promote the producers themselves.
Not narrowing the topic to just food and drink enabled a wider range of events, attracting people with different interests.
Ruth Ainsworth, Arnside & Silverdale AONB Partnership
Quote from project manager
‘The festival was a brilliant opportunity to build new and lasting relationships with local businesses. It attracted visitors to the area and got great feedback from attendees and event organisers. It’s also benefited the AONB. A farmer we have worked with was a popular speaker at our conference this year. We have a growing library of profiles and images we can use to publicise the amazing work happening in the AONB.’ – Ruth Ainsworth
Quotes from participants
‘Really appreciated having a risk assessment written for me. Fantastic that someone from the AONB accompanied me on both walks as this meant I didn’t need to worry so much about the people walking at the back and sharing their knowledge with the group enriched the walk. Fantastic!’ – Herbal Walk leader Veda West
‘Really enjoyed the talk on bees – very nice to hear someone that really knows the subject’ – The Beekeeping year attendee
‘Excellent ramble – a fund of knowledge – learnt a huge amount about both the area and apples.’ – Orchard ramble attendee
Key search words: Festival, local produce, local food, business, tourism
Photo credits: Haymaking – Sue-Premru, The-Bakehouse – Ella-Riden.