Food and Drink Festival axed

Wigan's Food and Drink Festival with TV Chef Jean Christophe Novelli at The Theatre Kitchen at The Piazze, Wigan Life Centre, last year
Wigan's Food and Drink Festival with TV Chef Jean Christophe Novelli at The Theatre Kitchen at The Piazze, Wigan Life Centre, last year

WIGAN’S annual Food and Drink Festival has been axed for next year.

Organised by Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, in association with private sector partners, the festival has been extremely popular since it was introduced five years ago.

However, the amount of support from private sector sponsorship has reduced by £10,000 this year and although WLCT has worked hard to try and find alternative companies interested in supporting the event the programming is already too far behind schedule to be ready for next year.

But Leisure Trust bosses stress that the popular Jazz Festival will still go ahead as will the Beer Festival.

A spokesperson for WLCT said: “It is with great sadness that we will not host a Food and Drink Festival in 2013.

“We have lost some private sector sponsorship for this festival and although we have found some new sponsorship this hasn’t been enough to match previous years.

“It is an extremely difficult financial environment for everyone at the moment, including ourselves, and we are not in a position to cover this shortfall or offer the same amount of financial support as in previous years.

“Given that we have not been able to find new sponsors by the middle of November there is now insufficient time to plan, organise and promote a festival of this scale in time for March.”

An estimated 40,000 people experienced the event this year, with more than £300,000 spent in the local food and drink sector during the 10 days of the festival.

Despite the financial pressures, WLCT say they remain committed to putting on a mixed and varied range of cultural events for the enjoyment of Wigan borough residents in 2013.

A spokesman said: “We can confirm that the 2013 Wigan International Jazz Festival will go ahead and we will continue to support and showcase local produce, producers and restaurants through our events and activities where and when appropriate.

“We will also review whether it will be possible to re-introduce the Food and Drink Festival in 2014.”

The Food Festival used star names - as well as back street kitchens - to show that there was more to the borough’s cuisine and culture than meat pies and King Street clubland.

In doing so, the popular event, which, ironically was this year the best supported ever, even managed to win the title of one of Britain’s best themed festivals in a top 10 countdown compiled by The Guardian in their travel supplement.

Top names have included Jean-Christophe Novelli, Antony Worral Thompson, Aldo Zilli and Simon Rimmer and Jilly Goolden.