Small businesses flourish at Stone Food and Drink Festival

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Small traders had a chance to show off their range of goods to hundreds attending this year’s Stone Food and Drink Festival.

The first day of the festival saw a number of traders across the country allow tasters of their homemade food and drink in Stone’s Westbridge Park.

David Fletcher, 70, runs a family-owned cider brewery Gillow Cider with his son.

He said: “This is the fourth time we have been, and it’s great because loads of people come and get to sample our fresh cider.

“We grow the cider apples ourselves in Herefordshire, so to be able to bring our product to new parts is great.”

Locals and people from afar arrived in their hundreds for the opportunity to taste new and exciting food and drink, which otherwise would not be available to them.

Walter Molinski, 42, a local resident, said: “The festival provides lots of different foods, that my hometown doesn’t usually have. You’ve got fairtrade, organic, all those sorts of things and it’s nice to have a variety of choice. It’s great to give a helping hand to small businesses.”              

Festival goers sample the variety of foods that small local businesses had to offer.

The festival cost owners £90,000 this year, and organisers are hoping to expand to a bigger venue by next year, whilst including more stalls. 

Collin Taylor, 61, compere for the festival, said: “We are hoping to put Stone on the map. From what started as a very small idea in the high street has now grown to one of the largest events in the county.” 

He added: “Every penny we get through that gate and in ticket sales and from sponsors goes towards putting up another festival again for next year.” 

Food and drink was not the only theme of the event.

Park Foster Care, a Midlands-based care association, were on hand to offer an insight into the shortage crisis of foster carers.

Deb Reid, 48, coordinator at Park Foster Care, said: “We’re only a small organisation, with about 14,000 children on our hands, and only 50 carers to deal with them all. The situation is rather dire. We’re looking to raise awareness, and this festival is a great way to do that.”

(Additional reporting by Kathryn Jones)

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