Crowds flocked to the Fleet Food Festival on the weekend of 23rd and 24th June with over 11,000 people coming to enjoy the sunshine, artisan food producers, cookery demonstrations and family activities.
The event was organised by the Fleet Business Improvement District for the first time with a culinary feast of fabulous food, cookery demonstrations and masterclasses, tasty talks, children’s activities and an appetising menu of live music.
For the first time the event included an accompanying car show of supercars and stunning classic cars organised by United Classic Cars on Saturday and craft show on Sunday. Professional bands also performed on the stage including Supergreek, fresh from their recent performance at London’s legendary 100 club and The Kindred Spirit Band with their original take on the Folk Rock / Prog Rock genre.
“This was a much larger event than in previous years and we had lots of activities and entertainment which meant that people made it a day out and many people who came on Saturday returned on Sunday because they had such a great time. We had amazing feedback from visitors and businesses and have clear evidence that the events we are organising are increasing the number of people coming into Fleet, which benefits the town’s businesses as well as the community.
“This is a significant step in our vision, getting Fleet known as the place to come for amazing events and unrivalled independent retail and restaurant offer and for the Food Festival to become Hampshire’s premier food event.” said Emma Molyneux, Chair of the Fleet Business Improvement District.
Emma also explains the wide benefits of events such as this to a town, “By definition, festivals attract visitors. And visitors spend money, which boosts the local economy both on and off the festival site. On-site spending includes parking fees, food, beverage and product sales local traders and craft stalls —and more.
“As well as the visitors on the day, events such as this have many broader benefits, some of which may be indirect but the ‘ripple effect’ can have a positive long term impact on the local economy. There will be off-site spending relating to festivals which generates revenue for businesses, for example, visitors and exhibitors stop at petrol stations, supermarkets restaurants and shops on the way home. We made a conscious decision not to show a live screening of the England World cup game which meant that many enjoyed the football in local pubs yet returned to the festival after instead of going home. We know from talking to them that their takings did not suffer.
“Overnight visitors provide another source of off-site revenue to communities hosting festivals. For example, overnight contractors or stallholders staying overnight spend on hotels, food and beverages during the time they attend the festival.
“Festivals also provide free marketing and advertising for local businesses as visitors talk about their fun experiences when they go back home. If visitors post comments and photos about their experiences on Facebook or other social media, so much the better. The economic benefits of successful festivals ripple throughout a local economy–affecting tourism and non-tourism- related businesses alike.
“As a BID we encourage levy paying businesses on the main footfall routes to maximise sales from these visitors to the town by opening, promoting products or offers to encourage return visits or providing flyers so that they can promote their business for free. Fleet BID encourages engagement at every level to ensure levy payers receive full benefit.”
As well the visitor numbers for the Food Festival footfall was up in the Hart Centre. A recent survey also suggests that 22% people spent more in the town than usual that Saturday and 64% spent the same in the town as they would normally.
From the visitor survey, 31% people completing the survey were attending the Food Festival for the first time and 20% of respondents visit Fleet ‘from time to time rather than ‘regularly’.
View the Fleet Food Festival video here.
The variety of stalls, food offering, overall atmosphere and new layout including seating were praised most and people answering the survey have asked for more stalls and more activities for children at future events.
Thank you to David Fisher, Paul Mannering and Aldershot, Fleet and Farnham Camera Club for the photos.