This years East Yorkshire Country Fair at the Driffield Showground was very much a tale of two days.
Heavy rain showers and strong winds on Saturday resulted in low footfall, and some stall holders making the difficult decision to close early to protect their stock from possible damage.
Sunday was a different day. The wind dropped, the sun came out, and so did the visitors.
The annual fair allows visitors to see, taste and purchase the best of what Yorkshire has to offer.
Stalls ranged from handmade garden furniture, to treats for man’s four-legged best friend, and truck driving experiences.
The most popular stalls however by far involved food and drink.
Beswick Hall Farms of Driffield had two stands at the fair. One providing hot food which included hot Belted Galloway beef and Oxford Down lamb rolls for only £5
The farms second stall allowed people to purchase meat products including sirloin steak.
Beswick Farmer Ed explained: ‘We take great pride in our livestock. They graze along the banks of the river Hull. This is good not just for them but also for the ecology of the surrounding nature reserve.
Nicola from Beswick Hall said: ‘people like to know where their food comes from and understand what goes into raising them.
‘We’re a farm based in Driffield, so for us coming to events like this, where people come from all over the region means people can see what we do and who we are.’
Other food available included fresh wood fired pizza, cooked to order in the van.
Hedge-Hoggers Cider is a brewery with a difference.
The cider press allows people from the local community to donate any excess apples they are given in return they will be reimbursed with a batch percentage in either cider or apple juice.
Together with the traditional and berry flavoured ciders, there are chilli and ginger options available.
Owner Dan said ‘The chilli one was originally made as a bit of a joke but has become one of our best sellers’.
What starts out as quite a delicate flavour at first taste, suddenly awakens all the tongues taste buds. The heat is warming without becoming overpowering.
A special blend was offered for live radio tasting session. A 50/50 mix of the chilli and ginger presses. The result was what Jools from Great Driffield Radio described as a ‘weird delight’. The balance of left the pallet singing with a warmth in the back of the throat.
The team at Hedge-Hoggers have also considered the way in which they sell their cider. Bottles are the most common, but for this season they are also offering a tapped pouch. Containing 5 pints of cider this is ‘a perfect options for campers as the flexible container works well in more limited spaces’ said Dan.
‘The importance of event like this are priceless. It gives us a chance to show what we do to an audience which, on an average week we would not have access too.
‘A good couple of days here can set us up for the next couple of season.’
This kind of event for small, independent traders is not cheap.
In addition to the stand fees, which vary depending on pitch size and location, but also staffing, advertising costs and the level of stock that is allocated.
For some this is known as a loss leader event where samples are given away, special offers are available and waste levels can be unpredictable.
An example of this would be Saturday. The wastage would be high and sales low as a result of the bad weather. This is something that cannot always be predicted but must be considered.
Drinks companies have greater control regarding wastage. Bottles can be capped or decanted, food stuff must comply to health and safety regulations regarding storage, and the length of time products can be displayed and kept.
The ultimate goal is to generate new clients who will not only spend once but return time and time again.
For some of the stall holders there was an additional chance of exposure. Local radio station Great Driffield Radio were in attendance for both days broadcasting live.
Station manager John Harding regularly interviewed the stall holder, helping to promote what they have to offer in his unique way.
John said ‘for us as a local station its important that we help to promote these guys. The passion they have for what they do is astonishing, they do all the hard work we (the team) just have a chat about it. The only difference is its not just one on one its more like one and a few thousand.’
The radio station like all other businesses need to make money, and for them its all about paid advertising.
If a prospective company sees that at station a is visible and plays an active part in the community, there is a greater chance they will pay for their company to be advertised on air.
For the visitor of this kind of event, it is all about fun, food and family time. For the exhibitors its all business.