Shropshire Star

Visitors spice up their lives at Market Drayton food and heritage festival

Market Drayton Ginger and Spice Festival racked up record-breaking visitor numbers on a glorious day.

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Gingerella, AKA Paul Deakin, welcomes visitors the the market

The festival returned for its sixth year, with a full programme of fun, creative and educational events and activities relating to the culinary heritage and history of the town.

The Roving Canal Traders Group, with their floating market, were back at the event once again, and the headline chef was James Sherwin, owner of the Wild Shropshire restaurant in Whitchurch. He has been on Channel 4's The Taste, alongside Nigella Lawson, Anthony Bourdain and Ludo Lefebvre in 2013. James also teaches at Perrys Field to Fork cookery school in Eccleshall.

Ingrid Pemble from Original Biscuit Bakers
Market Drayton Ginger and Spice Festival
Helen Morgan MP with Alya Rafiq from Jinger

The festival included the popular and free to enter spicy street market, which took place on Cheshire Street in the centre of town, as well as a ticketed ‘Fodder and Tipple Trail’.

There was a self-guided heritage trail and contest available for families, a food theatre with regional and local chefs, and the floating market on the Shropshire Union Canal.

There was also street entertainment, a stand-up comedian and a fundraising grand finale jazz and blues concert at St Mary’s Church

Market Drayton Ginger and Spice Festival
Mayor Mark Whittle taste tests cookies at the Cookies and Whoopies store with sisters Lisa and Debbie Young
Town crier Geoffrey Russell

Founder and organiser Julia Roberts said: "It's gone very well indeed. We've had a very sunny day and we're pretty sure it's been a record attendance.

"It's been very busy. There have been lots of happy faces from visitors and stallholders.

"We've had this wonderful food theatre and people have been really interested in that. There have been lots of free activities for kids.

"Some people have come a long way. People have come from as far as Warwickshire."

Jonathan Forrester-Cliffe, left, tries fudge from Russell Copeland of Fudjit
Icookindian chef Amerpal Harar

Billington's gingerbread has been made in Market Drayton for more than 200 years, and the town is twinned with Pezanas in France due to its links to the infamous Clive of India who lived nearby.

The theme of the festival was the Commonwealth, which had been planned in honour of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. Organisers decided continuing with the theme would be a fitting way to pay tribute after Her Majesty's death.

Several shops in the down were given a country and gingerbread figures to decorate for their window displays.

There were lots of gingerbread Queens, a few gingerbread King Charles, corgis and a Lilibet and Philip in Drayton Deli.

There were Ukrainian refugees in the food theatre, giving a demonstration on how to make Ukrainian dumplings - with the help of a translator.

Frank Lewis from Frank and Co
Mike Freed from the Market Drayton Twinning Association

The event was sponsored by Market Drayton Town Council, James Du Pavey estate agents, Palethorpes Bakery, The Compleat Food Group, Joule's brewery, Dourish and Day, Nomad's fine wine curators, Style Optique and Original Biscuit Bakers.

Julia added: "I want to say a big thanks to all our sponsors. We wouldn't be able to do it without them. We're not-for-profit and free to attend and that's how we want it to stay."

The Ginger and Spice Festival aims to bring together the community of Market Drayton to discover, explore and celebrate the town’s assets and unique cultural-heritage.

The festival also acts as a vehicle to promote local food producers, other community groups and to explore heritage and places of historical interest in and around the rural market town.