It was lovely not to have to catch a bus to get to an event, but to be able to walk there and back and still not rack up the total of my daily average step count. As well as that, the weather was just about perfect with lots of sun but a few passing clouds to make sure you didn’t overdose on vitamin D, and a bit of a breeze to cool you down. The Stray is a gorgeous place on days like these – and any other day to be honest.

What made today so special was that the 200 acres were host to lots of food and drink events as well as entertainment for all the family. OK, it didn’t cover the full space, that would have been silly, but it was a big enough show to cater, literally, for the number of attendees and give them plenty of breathing room. There is nothing worse than going to an open air event and being packed together like sardines. Oh yes, it was the same weekend as Glastonbury.

Simon in full flow. The woman at the front in the denim jacket is obviously placing her order with Ocado for the ingredients.

My first port of call was the cookery demonstration tent where Simon from Leeds Cookery School was doing his thing. Today it was Thai Curry and Malaysian Rice. I know Simon from a course I took at the school and also at an awards presentation bash, where he won but I didn’t. Hardly surprising as I wasn’t nominated, just there to write about it. Even so, I would like to thank my friends, colleagues, dog……. What I like about Simon’s way of presenting his lessons is that he is not as smooth as the chefs on the telly but makes the odd mistake, this time he mislaid the garlic but when he got back from the cupboard he found it languishing behind his chopping board. This might put you off if you were studying to run a Michelin starred restaurant, but when you just want to learn how to knock up something really delicious for a Saturday night treat – behave! – then it makes the process much less daunting.

The end product.

Another great thing about Leeds Cookery School is that it is in the old Gipton Fire Station, hardly the most salubrious part of town, and all the profits made are donated to a local charity Zest who work to reduce inequality in the area. The end product looked amazing and those who tried it confirmed that that was the case.

When the demonstration was over I took a stroll around the outdoor stalls, the sun was out but this is Harrogate in June so I thought that I would not take any chances so save the tents for later. I was pleased to see that there were lots of Yorkshire-based food producers selling their wares. I didn’t have much time for a chat with each of them as, thankfully, they were busy. That is the point, after all.

A picture paints a thousand words so here is a War and Peaceworth.

I asked this chap if he had any genuine booze rather than just Forged Spirits. I really don’t think he got it as there was not even a roll of the eyes as if to say, That’s the fiftieth time I’ve heard that today.
Contrary to his demeanour, this chap must have a great sense of humour. He must also be a little weird to think of making beer from Yorkshire pudding, A pint of ale with gravy please, and a pornstar tripe cocktail for the lady.
In the words of Andy Williams, Where Do I BeGin.

There seemed to be an abundance of booze stalls outside, I don’t know what people will make of us Yorkshire folk, so I decided to see what was in the tent. .

Surprise surprise, more booze. Screw you Vladimir, we are self-sufficient in vodka so give Harvey Wallbanger a ring and go for Sex On The Beach, but watch out, the sand gets everywhere.

I thought that it was about time to shake off the Yorkshire stereotype so I sought out a stand selling proper food.

Who knew that we did pork pies. There was one less sample on the counter when I left. I am just glad that there wasn’t a full pie there as I wouldn’t have known whether to pay for it or Whippet!
Skon but not forgotten

At last, something a little more sedate, the Little Yorkshire Scone Company. The great thing about scones in Yorkshire is that you are not likely to get into a fight over the way you eat them. In Devon and Cornwall they are very particular as to whether the cream or the jam goes on first. We also don’t care if you pronounce it scown or skon as long as they are good, and cheap is a bonus! Besides we have lots of other ways of getting into fights.

This wins my pun of the day award by a million miles.

I was so impressed by the name of this company that I almost spent some money. You don’t see a lot of Monty Python puns and this makes all the others Palin to insignificance. Say no mower.

And now for something completely different.

Yorkshire Appetite food Tours accompany you round the restaurants of various towns in the Region. There are three courses, each at a different place and the price includes drinks. As you can see they do Harrogate, York, Otley and Vegan which, if my memory serves me well is in-between Cleckheaton and Heckmondwike.

I felt that it was time for a bit of fresh air and to see what else was going on, so I ventured back out into the sunshine. I saw a crowd gathered round a gazebo so went to take a look. It was a chap keeping on message by fire eating, I hope that he had not been sampling the spirits or it could have all ended in tears. Funny but I could have sworn that I saw an old flame in the crowd.

Like I said, it clashed with Glastonbury, otherwise this part of the site would have been rammed. I must say that he was very good and would have graced one of the stages in Somerset.

In this part of the Festival the food comes ready cooked so all you need is a fork, and a sense of adventure, to take you on a global culinary trip.

If you are going to go on a world tour then you need to start from home.
So, that’s where Simon’s Thai Curry ended up.
I am surprised that there were not more people here. Big Mouth and dumplings, how much more Yorkshire can you get.

I think that you get the drift by now, there were lots of vendors selling an amazing array of food. I had to make a hasty retreat though when I reached the Fried Chicken Stall.

When he saw me taking a photograph the chap said ‘I hope that you are getting my good side.’ I replied by saying that I didn’t think that he had one, so thought that a strategic withdrawal was in order.
Oh, come on, am I supposed to exercise total restraint. Yes it is supposed to be that colour.
I don’t know what was in that beer but I thought that I had better not have another.

Anyway. Once you have overloaded on food and booze there is only one sensible way to finish off your trip to the Festival and that is by visiting the funfair.

There were lots of nice, gentle rides to keep you amused.
There was something a little more energetic for the young ‘uns

If you really want to make a lasting impression on the rest of the festival goers why not sample something from all of the food and drink stalls and then climb aboard this bad boy. It will leave you with a lasting memory of your day at Harrogate Food and Drink Festival. A lot of people within projectile vomitting distance will also take home a lasting memory – of a dry cleaning bill!

If you didn’t manage to get to the Harrogate Food and Drink Festival, fear not as it returns returns to Ripley Castle on 3rd and 4th September. For details and to book, please go to

All photographs by Stan Graham

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