Liverpool Food and Drink Festival? No

I wrote this back in 2013. Three years later, despite my opposition, the Festival’s going from strength to strength. Loathsome, élitist and in all ways objectionable. Can we all collectively just make it stop?

As anyone who’s read this blog for any amount of time will know, I love Sefton Park. I run through it most days and love going to any special events held there, like Africa Oyé and then the Liverpool International Music Festival a couple of weeks ago. At these times it’s lovely to see the Park being so central to the city’s culture and so celebrated by so many people.

But this weekend the biggest field in the park is being turned into a shopping mall for the Liverpool Food and Drink Festival and I won’t be going.Food And Drink1

The fences are already up all round the ‘festival’ site. To protect the investment. Because you’ll have to pay to get in. To what’s basically a collection of shops, a market, a shopping mall. Liverpool One don’t charge you to get in, the Farmer’s Markets don’t charge you to get in, not so far away Ormskirk Market doesn’t charge you to get in. But the Liverpool Food and Drink Festival does.Food And Drink2 Food And Drink3 Food And Drink4

Why? Well to make more profit obviously. But profit out of entry to a public park? Profit out of entry to a collection of shops and cafés who are already paying rent to be there?

‘But there’ll be cookery demonstrations, there’ll be ‘celebrity’ chefs’ you might say. Well, ok, charge people to see them if you want. But not to go shopping on our own field.Food And Drink5

And ok, the entry charge isn’t all that much – £5 a day online, £6.50 on the door or £9 for the weekend – but it’ll be enough to keep a lot of people away and maybe that’s the point? Is this a ‘festival’ for well-heeled foodies only and not the rest of us? Is this a deliberately divisive celebration for the ‘haves’ who’ll enjoy it so much more if the ‘have nots’ aren’t there? Just a thought.

In Liverpool. On public land. It’s just not right.

OK, rant over. But I hope it rains, heavily.Food And Drink6

And no, I’m not putting in any links to the thing. The local press is already running enough advertorials for it.

Update

So after a couple of busy days post views and exchanges of opinions – mostly supportive –  on here and on Twitter, the requested deluge did not arrive.

And I went to Granby 4 Streets market instead of this festival of the well-heeled.

And I went to Granby 4 Streets market instead of this festival of the well-heeled.

 

And splendid it was. Free, friendly and there was food too.

And splendid it was. Free, friendly and there was food too.

Well done Theresa, well done Joe and everyone else who’s made Granby 4 Streets happen all this year. Of the people, by the people, for the people.

14 thoughts on “Liverpool Food and Drink Festival? No

  1. Fiona

    Hahaha. Here here Ronnie! Funnily enough, I heard lots of people moaning before the LIMF events in the park about it being commandeered for an event, but that was FREE. To ban people from going into places that are ours, well now, that’s a flippin’ cheek. So I too hope it rains heavily here (but not in Shropshire, where we’ll be camping this weekend!)

    Reply
  2. Gerry

    You’ve given me pause for thought, Ronnie. Apart from feeling it was over-priced, I hadn’t considered it terms of being asked to pay to enter ‘what’s basically a collection of shops, a market, a shopping mall’. Good point. And Manchester Food & Drink Festival is free.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      When it first got going I thought it was a reasonable way of promoting local independents like Leaf to people who might not have heard of them. But as soon as they started charging, last year, I decided I wouldn’t go any more. I just go to the cafés themselves.

      Reply
  3. slbarwell

    Hmm I’m not sure. £5/6.50 is way too much, but a small charge on the door would help with sustainability of the event. Also it does make sure the people who enter actually want to be there, so you don’t get youths having a food fight or something similar. It probably helps reduce crime too.
    I don’t see why the charge needs to be so high though. Surely the people running the stalls would prefer more footfall, and if it were only £1/2 it would really boost numbers.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      I disagree. There were 60,000 people there for the Music Festival, including youngsters, and I didn’t see one ‘food fight’ nor was their any sense of crime or danger.

      The principle of not charging for access to public land is the same whether you are charging £1 or £5. It’s simply wrong. This, to me, is about separating the ‘haves’ with lots of disposable income from the rest of us. And the organisers grabbing some of that disposable income so less of it goes to the stall-holders.

      Reply
  4. Darren K

    You must be thrilled that its cold and rainy in L17 right now and with more of the same predicted for tomorrow your appetite for schadenfreude will be well satisfied.

    For the record, they didn’t start charging last year; they charged an entrance fee in 2011 too.

    With weekend tickets available at half price, an entrance fee amounting to the grand and princely sum of £2.25 per person per day, the haves are hardly separated from the “rest of us” are they?

    The “rest of us” will still be there mingling with those who have whilst you sit at home delighting at the rain battering against your small, narrow window on the world.

    Reply
  5. Lindsay53

    Way to go, Ronnie! It’s the principle of making a charge at all that is at issue, (profits go where?) as well as an ‘enclosure’ of an otherwise public space, free to use under normal circumstances. Dig those heels in good and hard!

    Reply
  6. Francis Laing

    I attended this event on the Saturday with my partner and two children. After paying our £13 for two adults (children free) to enter a public space I pay for anyway, we proceeded into the event . Apart from hearing the reggae reggae man on his guitar promoting his sauce, paying £9.50 for a bowl of olives and dried tomatoes , £4 for two pieces of fudge the size of a KitKat finger , queues a mile long for the inadequate toilet facility provided, we left feeling we had just payed to get into Harrods and got well and truly ripped off .

    Never ever again will I attend this event. I wish I had found your blog before I attended.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Sorry, but not surprised to hear how it went Francis.

      Anyway, welcome to the blog. If you look around there’s lots about wonderful places to go to around here where you won’t get ripped off.

      Reply
  7. Ste

    Well said. Everything is massively over priced when you get in there too. Will be staying away and leaving all the posers to enjoy it and to splash their cash.

    Reply
  8. Stephen Faragher

    I went in May very disappointed two large tents one with a bad covers band blaring and the other full of Y Factor rejects……nothing for free loads of queues no demonstrations, total rip off, I went to the one in Stanley Park in July, fiver in loads of free tastings, great chef demonstrations, wonderful total opposite of the Sevo one needless to say I spent about £30 on goodies, a food event not a take the money and run surprisingly Sevo is run by a Liverpooll Company and Stanley by a Chester oen you might have thought it was more likely to be the other way round.

    Reply

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