Eat:Festivals are hosting 3 markets in our area this spring – including a new one in Lyme Regis.
eat:Lyme Regis on Saturday 24 April joins eat:Castle Cary on 1 May and eat:Yeovil on 22 May as one day celebrations of local and regional food and drink, organised by multi-award winning eat:Festivals. We caught up with them to find out more.
eat:Festivals are led by Bev and Sarah Milner Simonds – two women on a mission to reconnect residents with the productive landscape that surrounds them. The social enterprise started in 2012 in their hometown of Burnham-on-Sea and has grown steadily now hosting 23 events in Somerset, Devon, South Gloucestershire and Dorset each year.
“We know that weekend shindigs, days out and socialising have all been turned on their heads over the past year with plans disrupted and many regular events cancelled. In 2021 we are hoping for the best , but ensuring our plans include a worst-case scenario. We managed to deliver 6 socially distanced and covid-secure events between lockdowns in 2020 and we are thrilled with the support from local council officers and support services in planning a fresh series of adapted markets in 2021.
The three towns we are working in are so different: Castle Cary with is honey coloured market house, the churchyard of St John’s in Yeovil and the seafront at Lyme Regis are all magnificent backdrops to showcase the micro and small producers from across the region – many of whom have not been to a live market for over a year. Covid restrictions meant many event organisers weren’t able to adapt their model to enable them to continue trading and this cut off a vital revenue stream for these family businesses. We have changed how we work and are thrilled to be back curating great food & drink markets.
Each event is free to attend and will have approximately 60 regional food and drink producers well-spaced, with some socially distanced entertainment. They are all open air and will have measures in place to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission. We are asking visitors to keep local, plan their visit and abide by the latest government advice.
New towns, like Lyme Regis, are really important to our aims. We focus on producers who are based within 30miles of our host towns, so when we see applications coming in from small businesses based outside our area, we want to create routes to market for them close to where they are.
Traders who had only just started out when the pandemic restrictions hit were some of the hardest hit by the lack of events, so we are launching a new support initiative, Start Out Strong [SOS], to help them.”