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Sample Cornish Culture at the Redruth Mining and Pasty Festival

Celebrate Cornwall's mining heritage at the Redruth Mining and Pasty Festival. Sample one of 20 varieties of Cornish pasty, or try making your own!
edruth Mining and Pasty Festival is a historic and cultural event celebrating Redruth’s mining heritage in a three-day festival during the second weekend in September. The event is organized by Redruth Town Council to celebrate and remember the local mining heritage of this area.

Mining in the Redruth area was an extremely costly operation for the miners and their families. Long hours in dangerous accident-prone mines yielded little more than a hand-to-mouth existence and an early death for most miners. The hard-working lives and sacrifices of many past miners are celebrated with some surprising local stories at the Redruth Mining and Pasty Festival.

The history of the first Cornish Pasty

Mining and Cornish pasties may sound like strange bedfellows, but it was mining that led to the invention of Cornish pasties. Miners’ wives would make the pasty, cramming one half of the circle of pastry with potatoes, onions, swede and meat in layers. Once folded over into a semi-circle, the pastry edges were crimped into a thick crust and the pasty was baked.

Pasties were the perfect shape to slip into miners’ pockets as they went down the dirty mine. At lunchtime they pulled out their pasties and ate them by holding the thick crimped edge with their dusty hands and then discarding it at the end.

Friday is Miners’ Day at the Redruth Mining and Pasty Festival

Back to the Mining and Pasty Festival with more local heritage to discover. The festival started in 2012 and the Friday is now officially Miners’ Day. It starts with a street performance telling the story of the man in Redruth who, when times were hard, had to sell his wife to raise enough funds to emigrate to places where the mining industry was still booming, long after the tin mines were closed in Cornwall. Let’s hope the idea doesn’t catch on!

The rest of the day has entertainment, stalls and a local concert usually featuring one of the male voice choirs from the area – another throwback to the days of the mines.

Saturday at the festival is Pasty Day and there are many stalls set up around the town centre selling delicious hot pasties and drinks. You’ll be amazed at how many different fillings there are these days for Cornish pasties: Curry Madrid, cheese and onion, steak, vegetarian, lamb and mint, cheese and bacon, beef and stilton, ham leek and cheese, pork and apple, steak and ale and even a breakfast pasty. Feeling hungry yet? You certainly will when you smell them!

Visitors are invited to have a go at making their own pasty in the demonstrations marquee or just enjoy sampling the many award-winning pasties on offer. It’s like a mass picnic and there’s a beer tent too. Children’s entertainers and plenty of other food and craft stalls are also on hand to entertain visitors throughout the day.

Join the Miners’ Memorial Walk at Redruth Mining and Pasty Festival

Sunday is Miners’ Memorial Day. It starts with a service of thanksgiving at St Euny Church followed by a pilgrimage walk to shed those pasty calories! The guided walk goes around all the mining heritage sites of the Great Flat Lode around Carn Brea (pronounce Carn Bray) and is really interesting if you know little or nothing about Cornish mining history. It explains all those empty wheelhouses and lonesome chimneys dotted about the landscape.

The walk includes the Mineral Tramway Trails around the disused South Crofty and South Wheal Frances mines which once employed the majority of the community in Redruth. Most importantly, the local guides pay tribute to the local miners and their families who gave everything to the industry, and for many that sadly meant their health or even their lives.

Educational and informative, the Redruth Mining and Pasty Festival is a wonderful heritage event to attend.

There are now dozens of different pasties on the market throughout Cornwall. We’d love to know what’s your favourite filling? Alternatively, give a plug to the bakery or café that makes the very best Cornish pasty in Cornwall in our comments box 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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