Thousands of visitors descended on Horsham town centre at the weekend (1 and 2 September) to enjoy the double delights of the increasingly popular ‘Big Nibble – A Slice of Sussex’ event.
The event was organised by Horsham District Council and was popular with shoppers and foodies alike while the Horsham Festival of Sound event took place on the Sunday.
Crowds flocked to over forty specialist local produce stalls over the weekend to pack their bags full of delicious local cheeses, eggs, breads, locally produced arts and crafts and other products.
Demand was so high that traders sold out of their produce, with some returning to the site twice with replenishments; a testament to the growing popularity of locally produced food and drink.
Horsham markets operator, Pj Aldred, said: “The Big Nibble was another great success and this year saw a record number of local producers attend over the two days.
“Many of the new producers commented on how lovely they found the people of Horsham and we are looking forward to even more of them joining us at our weekly Thursday and Saturday local produce market in the Carfax.
“Once again, we were thrilled to work with Horsham District Council and Festival of Sound on such a fabulous weekend in the town.”
Large crowds gathered eagerly on Saturday to watch inspirational open air live cookery as part of the ‘Live Food Show’.
Demonstrations were made from top class chefs from local restaurants such as Matt Gillan and Steven Edwards of South Lodge Hotel, Chris Durnin of The Lamb Inn, Francesco Raciti of Carmela Restaurant and Paul Kanja of Wabi.
There were also demonstrations made by traders from Horsham’s weekly local produce market including David Bell of Bangers Galore, Paul Martin of Garlic Wood Farm, Andy Turner-Cross of Slindon Bakery and James MacDonald of Taste of the Weald.
The final demonstration of the day drew a huge crowd as celebrity chef Tony Tobin, best known for his many appearances on the BBC TV show ‘Ready Steady Cook’, entertained with wit, charm and of course his culinary talents.
Demonstrator Matt Gillan heads up ‘The Pass’ restaurant at South Lodge Hotel in Horsham and can be seen talking about the event in advance at The Big Nibble’s website or on Horsham District Council’s YouTube page.
Also on Saturday, Horsham’s Beer Trail saw 175 people sampling a whole range of real ales in 10 of Horsham town’s pubs and bars as well as from the Hepworth beer tent in the Carfax.
Tasters from a diverse mix of beers such as Arundel Castle, Conqueror Stout and Dark Star Hophead were enjoyed in mini tankards, picked up from the Beer Trail’s proud sponsor Piries Bar.
Crompton’s at The Olive Branch, Hepworth & Company Brewers Ltd, Piries Bar, The Anchor Hotel, The Beer Essentials, The Black Jug, The Crown, The Lynd Cross, The Malt Shovel and Ye Old Stout House all took part.
A very different Big Nibble flavour was enjoyed on Sunday when music lovers enjoyed a lively and energetic range of 50 live bands broadcast from five stages across the town as part of the launch of Horsham’s Festival of Sound, which was supported by Horsham District Council.
The event programme had something to cover all tastes with the Acoustic Stage on The Forum, Rock Stage at the Shelley Fountain, Originals Stage in Market Square, Blues, Jazz, Soul & Funk in Piries Place and the bands with the broadest appeal performed on the Carfax Bandstand. Details can be found at the Festival of Sound’s website.
Many of the specialist local produce stalls that returned on Sunday were inundated with visitors stocking up on yet more tasty purchases whilst queues were seen from 1:30pm with people holding exclusive golden vouchers. The vouchers allowed participants a taster card offering up five free food samples from any of the nine participating businesses on a special ‘Nibble Trail’ between 2pm and 4pm.
Absolute Food Service, Artisan, B52’s, Beeches Buffet, Carmela Restaurant, Crompton’s at The Olive Branch, DJ’s Spot, Giraffe and verygoodfood were all involved.
Roger Paterson (Con, Pulborough and Coldwaltham), cabinet member for the local economy, said: “This year’s Big Nibble was definitely the best ever, as demonstrated by the enthusiastic crowd of Nibblers.
“A huge thank you to all the stallholders for their wonderful local produce and to the celebrity chefs for showing off their superb dishes, which can be made from delicious local produce.
“A fantastic start to the Horsham Food and Drink Festival.
“I would advise everyone to grab a copy of the Festival programme now.”
The Big Nibble directly supports 85 businesses which participate in the event in some way, as well as driving more visitors to the town over the whole weekend of celebrations.
The event is organised by Horsham District Council and relies heavily on sponsorship and support from local businesses and organisations. Horsham District Council would like to thank all event sponsors, partners and supporters for their valued involvement.
The local produce fuelled event kicked off a whole month of celebrations, as the Horsham District Food and Drink Festival, organised by Horsham District Council, runs until 30 September.
Further information about the Horsham District Food and Drink Festival and a free programme is available from its website or by telephoning Horsham District Council on 01403 215264.