Horsham’s Big Nibble food festival proved more varied, gregarious and popular than ever when it returned at the weekend attracting hundreds of visitors.
Food and drink lovers united for the annual two-day celebration in Horsham town centre which benefitted lots of businesses to help boost the local economy.
On Saturday, August 31, The Big Nibble featured a fantastic selection of stalls – the food and drink safari in the Carfax, Horsham general market in the Bishopric and a craft village in the Market Square.
This year, in keeping with a strategy to diversify the appeal of the town’s events, Sunday introduced a fresh focus for the Little Nibble presenting a broad range of food and drink interests as well as a generous slice of foodie related entertainments to keep both our younger and older visitors engaged.
The live cookery theatre in the amphitheatre in the Carfax ran over both days, expertly curated and compered by the evergreen Sussex Food guru, Hilary Knight.
A brilliantly eclectic programme of food producers, street food entrepreneurs and top young restaurant chefs were complemented by author presentations and the return of the outstanding singing chef, Jon Nulty to close the demos each day.
On Saturday, Aperitifs in the Afternoon, a new feature with Crates Local and Cabin Pressure Gin combining to launch their new Horsham Serpent Gin followed by Luke from The Horsham Cellar, celebrating the first birthday of his business with an insight into the wonders of Spanish Vermouth.
Hundreds took part in the beer and gin trails that ran over both days encouraging visitors to explore many town centre businesses to sample some tremendous local tipples.
Hepworths were the sponsors and start point for the beer trail and the Brewhouse and Kitchen was the end point and prize draw provider.
The gin trail started at Crates Local, ending at Piries Bar who were the prize draw provider with an amazing distillery tour for ten people for the winner.
A great range of food related street theatre added amusement for young and old, with acts such as Easy Lay Eggs, Fairly Fresh Fish, The Jersey Girls and Jamie’s Exploding Cookery Show.
This was topped off on Sunday with a gorilla chasing a banana who joined a pineapple for a ‘walking fruit salad’ and the premier performance on the bandstand by the ‘Little Notes’ Little Nibble Fruit and Vegetable band that introduced a newly written song for the occasion.
Sunday’s Little Nibble took on an education and sustainability twist and focussed on presenting information and opportunities to experience the wide range of food and drink options now available to people.
These not only reflected the best in ‘from farm to fork’ production supported by NFU Mutual Henfield, but also the popularity in plant based and meat free eating.
The Vegan Fest Horsham marquee presented a range of plant based food and drink options supporting those who would like to reduce their animal based food use.
Organiser of Vegan Fest Horsham, Helen Crabb, described the event as ‘truly amazing’. She said: “We had a great turn out - lots of interest from both vegans and non-vegans alike.
“Our stallholders were fantastic, we had pies and lovely cold savouries, amazing cakes, cheese, nut butters, mayonnaise, plus stallholders offering nutritional advice and a new start-up company in Horsham offering plant based cookery workshops.
“On the hot food side, we had Green Griddle offering their amazing hotdogs and Simply Veg who do the tastiest of curries.
“Most stallholders had sold out by early afternoon - just shows how people are changing their eating habits.
“In addition, two of our stallholders gave cookery demonstrations and talked about the benefits of a healthy plant based diet and had lots of conversations with the general public all day about transitioning to a kinder way of living.”
Kinder Living Horsham and friends brought along their fresh produce Smoothie Bike and plenty of tips on how to make our food and drink consumption more sustainable. Horsham District Council’s Health & Wellbeing team were present offering free advice and programmes to residents.
Reduction in plastics use and refill water initiatives were also represented.
Horsham Churches Together presented Messy Harvest with interactive food related activities for younger people and there was information on hand on how to support Horsham Food Bank at Waitrose.
Bands Together – a new Horsham District Council partnership initiative that supports vulnerable people to get the most from town events – launched at the event and the new Horsham District Community Lottery was promoted from the event information point to raise money for local community good causes.
Horsham Markets’ street food stalls launched ‘Taste Explorers’ menu items, with smaller portions for those with smaller appetites (and pockets) and to encourage trying different tastes from around the world. This will now continue on the twice-weekly markets as a new feature.
Horsham Bus Rally returned on the Sunday as well. Always a great spectacle, there was a special show set up in the Park and Ride just south of the town and old bus routes recreated from Carfax in the town to many outlying towns and villages in Horsham District.
Traditionally The Big Nibble has marked the launch of a District wide month-long food and drink festival, but this year for the first time it is launching a year round campaign to promote all of the great food and drink experiences to be found in Horsham District across the seasons.
The first of Horsham District Council’s seasonal leaflets promoting our District’s food and drink experiences will be distributed at the Horsham event with all the foodie experiences on offer, it can also be downloaded from www.horshamfoodies.co.uk
Anyone who visited the event is invited to give their feedback online via https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/LXSZ562 with a prize draw from The Horsham Cellar for a bottle of Nyetimber Wines Classic Cuvee sparkling to be won as an incentive.
The next major Horsham event run by the council will be Horsham AmeriCARna on Sunday, September 29, with all details available via www.horshamtimewellspent.co.uk
The Big Nibble was organised by Horsham District Council, Horsham Markets and partners and sponsored by NFU Mutual Henfield.