Abergavenny Food Festival: an insider's view

Heather Myers is the Abergavenny Food Festival’s second Chief Executive. Her role in making ‘The Best Event in Wales 2013’ happen year-on-year is a real eye-opener. Suits? Power lunches? Forget that. This is show business and it’s all hands on deck.

Early days…

Close up of gluten-free cakes

Abergavenny Food Festival, Vale of Usk

I had visited the festival for many years with my family and loved it. Having worked in the Welsh Valleys on community regeneration I wanted to use those skills to get more people involved and help sell the wider Welsh food tourism story. It’s a challenging but brilliantly fun job. Does a gobstopper explode in a microwave? Never thought experiments like that would be part of my day job! (It doesn't by the way). 

My initial expectations didn’t really match the reality of the role! Diversity’s the name of the game: meeting the Secretary of State for Wales in Whitehall, walking the streets to sort lamppost banners, discussing food tourism policy with the Food Minister, measuring a refrigerated trailer, visiting schools to get them signed up for our Food Academy, and being filmed for the Monmouthshire Business Awards. We’re a small team so you dive in where needed. I make lots of lists.

Bonkers in a good way

People in lobster costumes at Abergavenny Food Festival

Abergavenny Food Festival, Vale of Usk by andychapman9

It's bonkers in a good way. Quirky and edgy and with a few surprises thrown in. There’s a  great atmosphere because it all happens in the centre of Abergavenny - a lovely unspoilt Welsh Borders market town. Two days of fun and feasting guaranteed. Everyone who participates is passionate about what they do and keen to share knowledge: top chefs, producers, makers, writers and performers. On top of that there’s some seriously silly street entertainment. We attract top-notch producers and create what I truly believe is one of the best artisan food markets in the UK.

No such thing as an average day

Drinks vendor and customer at Abergavenny Food Festival

Abergavenny Food Festival, Vale of Usk

It's busy, rich and varied. Getting an event of this size together is all about taking people with you on the journey; local businesses, the community, sponsors, producers, performers. I've cleaned kitchens, set budgets, poured drinks, written business plans, shifted boxes in 2013, the Festival was awarded 'Best Event in Wales’, so we've set the bar pretty high for ourselves!

We’ve exciting things on the horizon for future festivals; a hands-on artisan cookery skills school and a super-atmospheric night market so more people can drop in and enjoy some great Welsh hospitality. As well as an amazing line-up of special event performers.  We want to keep the show on the road. Banging the drum for Wales, helping grow Welsh food skills and talent and keep it fresh and fun.

Find out more about food and drink in Wales