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Moretonhampstead Festival of Food, Drink & Arts is a true feast

Mortonhampstead, famous for having the longest one-word place name in England, is also well known for hosting the Festival of Food, Drinks and the Arts.
One of the earliest (and in my opinion the best!) festivals that are held each year in Devon is the . It takes place the second Saturday in March and combines a real feast for all the senses with its celebration of the very best of Devon’s food, drinks and arts.

Moretonhampstead welcomes foodies

Moretonhampstead is a small and charming town in the heart of the , midway between Okehampton and Newton Abbot. Its tiny population of around 1,500 Devonians is overwhelmed the 6,000+ visitors who come to enjoy the festival. The locals all get involved by opening their homes, restaurants and studios for the day.

The event is usually opened at 09:30 by a famous local celebrity (such as Chef , of Gidley Park fame), who cuts the ribbon and declares the event open. Wander around the stalls that line the narrow streets selling pasties, locally raised organic meat, homemade sweets, clotted cream fudge and a host of dairy items that are hard to resist. The irresistible aroma of fresh baked goods is enough to sharpen any appetite, so be warned!

Exhibitors have a wonderful array of laden stalls offering samples and sips of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Scrumpy, Devon cider and award-winning ales are very popular and make cheap and practical souvenirs to take home with you. Several family bakeries display artisan breads and cakes, particularly lardy cake and saffron buns, a Westcountry speciality.

What to buy at the Moretonhampstead Festival of Food, Drink & Arts

Those with a sweet tooth, like me, will find it hard to walk past the jars of homemade sweets, toffee and fudge. Meanwhile my husband heads straight for the chutneys, dips, pickles and sauces which are a great accompaniment to local cheese. In particular, the award-winning are well worth sampling. Pies, pasties and sweet desserts will all be showing off too.

As the hub of a farming community, there are dairy producers, egg stalls, meat, game, poultry, fresh fish and delicious seafood on sale, so bring a cooler and do your food shopping if you are self-catering in a Devon holiday cottage for the week. And if you’re wondering how to cook it all, attend some of the wonderful chef’s demonstrations for some inspiration and tips.

Charity Kitchen Jumble and more

One place you will want to browse for a bargain is the Kitchen Jumble in the Parish Hall. All manner of kitchen tools, cookery books and unwanted gadgets are donated to the event and as you will see, what’s one person’s junk is another person’s treasure! All funds will go to a very appropriate charity ““. There will also be a recipe swap, so bring a few copies of your favourite recipe and go home with some great new ones to try out.

On the Arts side of the Festival, there is a free-to-enter Film Competition where would-be directors of the silver screen submit 90-minute videos. For 2013, the theme is “Made on Dartmoor” and is expected to feature people, animals and food that are grown, raised or produced within the . I’m sure the judges will be drooling over some of the end products! You should be able to view some of the best entries on local TV programs such as BBC Countryfile, or Spotlight which will report on the event for sure.

Dartmoor seems to attract a lot of writers and artists so there is always a wonderful display of watercolour scenes, pottery and artworks so go prepared to shop for gifts and support these local artisans by buying a unique handmade product as part of this great day out.

Have you attended one of the food festivals that take place throughout the year in Devon? What did you think of the quality of the food and drink, and the prices? Feel free to share your opinion with other would-be visitors by commenting below.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.

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