The magic of the Big Olney Food Festival

Not content with one foodie event this September, this year we managed to squeeze in the Ludlow Food Festival too. Ludlow was good practice to get our taste buds in gear. But also made us think about our own homegrown BOFF and what makes it tick. Ludlow won hands down on the weather! It also has an enviable setting, nestled as it is in the grounds of the Castle – quite beautiful. But beyond that, Olney holds its own and more.

The biggest differences at Ludlow? Less music, more food demonstrations; more supplier stalls, fewer street vendors. And it closes each day about 6pm. We visited on a Friday and I’m told it perks up considerably on Saturday. But in my opinion, our BOFF has the edge.

Why is that? Well of course, I live here. And that is, in essence, what makes BOFF so great. I’ve been in the town for over 20 years and have infiltrated its community. One of my closest friends plays in one of the bands, a good friend in another. A third band played at our summer street party. I know most of the stall holders by sight, if not by name. And am on first name terms with most of the support and bar crew (yet still manage to avoid doing any work!).

The biggest differences at Ludlow? Less music, more food demonstrations; more supplier stalls, fewer street vendors. And it closes each day about 6pm. We visited on a Friday and I’m told it perks up considerably on Saturday. But in my opinion, our BOFF has the edge.

Why is that? Well of course, I live here. And that is, in essence, what makes BOFF so great. I’ve been in the town for over 20 years and have infiltrated its community. One of my closest friends plays in one of the bands, a good friend in another. A third band played at our summer street party. I know most of the stall holders by sight, if not by name. And am on first name terms with most of the support and bar crew (yet still manage to avoid doing any work!).

The festival is a very local affair. It was dreamt up by people who live in the town. It is organised, managed, nurtured and developed by folk (volunteers every one of them) who care passionately about the place we call home. Its thoroughly supported by the establishments, food outlets and providers in and around the town. And attended mostly by people who live here, that enjoy the variety and entertainment that this annual event brings. 

Now of course, I’m not going to get that in Ludlow. I don’t know the place. But walking around, I didn’t feel that bonhomie, that rapport, that goodwill. It felt like a commercial venture not a community event. And that’s the difference. BOFF really is by the people, for the people, however cliched that may sound. #ilovemytown.

Best overall: Saf’s Kitchen

best-overallHaving got best newcomer last year, its no great surprise that Saf’s Kitchen take my best overall award this year. All weekend I heard ‘have you tried Saf’s yet’. Three or four people proclaimed it the best food they have eaten at the festival, ever. Fresh and flavoursome, this Indian caters for vegetarian and meat eaters alike with bitesize pakoras and samosas as well as full meal options such as traditional Indian streetfood chat. It’s properly lovely.

My favourite thing: Emberton Smoked Garlic Corn of the Cob

favourtie-thingWhilst the variety of food at BOFF is pretty good, there is a glut of meat and carbohydrate. Sausage in a roll, burger in a bun, hog roast bap, curry and rice, chicken and chips! Cutting through this carnivorous feast was a bright yellow spear of goodness. Freshly cooked corn on the cob, glistening with flavoured butter. It’s a thing of beauty. Please come back next year!