On Saturday 9th September, we attended “Pub in the Park”, hosted by Tom Kerridge, in Knutsford. It’s the first of these annual events to take place in Knutsford, with other successful weekends having taken place in Marlow, Bath and Tunbridge Wells. It being a ‘foodie’s festival’ of sorts, it fitted in nicely with the Knutsford crowd and we hope that it returns again next year.
We bought our tickets almost as soon as they came out in February of this year. At £160 for an all-weekend ticket, it’s a fairly expensive event, and we opted just to attend the Saturday afternoon event, priced at just £25 plus booking fee for an adult ticket.
An afternoon family ticket for two adults and two children is just £65, and they actively encourage you to attend with children, with plenty of activities for kids, including a cinema and children’s food stalls (the children’s pizza stand was the most popular food haunt by far!). Children under 6 are also able to attend for free.
This years event took place at The Lambing Shed in Knutsford. It was originally planned to take place at the Heath in town, but due to a small number of grumpy residents (!) it had to moved to a less residential area. Whilst the location of The Lambing Shed was good, it’s a real big shame it didn’t take place closer to the town, such as in Tatton Park, or on the Heath as planned, as it could have brought so much vitality and business to the town over the weekend.
Whilst Pub in the Park offers free onsite parking, we found it was easier to park offsite on a nearby residential street to avoid the rush when everyone was leaving, although having said that it was well organised and didn’t cause the chaos that many foresaw.
At our afternoon event, we had Angela Hartnett, host Tom Kerridge and GBBO winner Candice Brown doing half hour cookery demonstrations. It’s so great that they had such a wide ranging variety of chefs and cooks, and there really was something for everyone.
Neptune kitchens provided the set and the tent for the demonstrations, but there wasn’t enough space for everyone who wanted to watch the live demonstration. It was also only partly undercover, and seeing as we live in Britain (and more to the point, Manchester!) it’s fairly likely it will rain, so it would have been better had it been in a proper gazebo or tent, as opposed to under a small sheltered area. Because it was only big enough to accommodate around 150 people to watch the demonstration, we only watched Candice Brown’s demonstration of black pudding sausage rolls (which looked bloody delicious!).
Having been to other country fairs and foodie events, it could have worked much better had they made the cookery demonstrations a ticketed add-on, as they do at Nantwich Festival, for instance, or make the audience area bigger to accomodate more people to watch.
The ground itself was bigger than we expected, with four or five rows of food and drink stalls set up – it took us a good couple of hours to walk round the whole thing. There was something for everyone, with lots of gluten free and vegan goodies on offer. One of our favourite stalls were Simply Add Sauces, who make concentrated sauces which you just add cream to in order to make a really rich and intense sauce. There were plenty of gin and vodka stands, perfect for finding individual Christmas gifts for people, and all of the stores were very reasonably priced compared to other country fairs and festivals. Eastender’s own Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) was there as well with his gin company.
Some stalls also offered their food as a lunch option for £5 (the food prices for lunch or dinner are standardised at £5 each for a tapas style taster). The best of these options was a pie store which offered a whole pie for just £5.
The one thing I would say, however, is that although it’s a national event, it’s a shame there weren’t more local brands showcasing their stuff, but I suppose that’s just ‘one of those things’ rather than a criticism of the actual event.
There are also add-ons which you can buy for the event, such as a wine tasting masterclass, but due to the variety of stalls and entertainment on offer, there was no point we were twiddling our thumbs looking for something to do.
Food and Drink
As it’s a food and drink festival, as you can probably imagine, the food options and drink options were generally pretty good. There were six or seven ‘pubs’ from which you could buy hot tapas style food. We tucked into beef brisket and pollock hotdogs, followed by tomato and basil arancini and salt beef croquettes. The food on offer all looked fantastic, but the queues were fairly long for many of the ‘pubs’. I think it was more down to the efficiency of each different stand, rather than the volume of people, however.
In terms of drinks, there were a couple of bars dotted about. Beer was £5 for a pint, plus the cost of a reusable plastic mug at £1 each. There were also gin bars and cocktail stands where you could buy drinks, as well as a prosecco bar.
You’re allowed to take in bottled water, and I’m glad that I took a couple of bottles as I didn’t see many places you could buy water from, though I presume you can get tap water from most of the bars.
During the weekend, there were some fantastic bands and singers who performed at the show. Over the weekend, the likes of Tom Odell, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Gabrielle Aplin, Toploader, Razorlight, Mel C and Scouting for Girls, amongst others, all performed.
We saw Gabrielle Aplin’s performance, which was brilliant, and also heard Toploader’s set, although due to a torrential downpour many people ran for cover under the tents to shelter from the rain so we didn’t make it to their performance. The stage set up is great, with loads of room for people to dance and watch the acts.
Tom Kerridge also did a small speech at the end of the event to thank everyone for coming which was a nice gesture.
Overall, I would definitely attend the event again should it be held in Knutsford next year (fingers crossed!). It was a really nice day out, in spite of the torrential rain, and a really well organised, family friendly event.
For more information about Pub in the Park, click here.