It’s raining and i’m not disappointed perhaps because i’m a curmudgeon. Perhaps because I’m hoping the TASTEFEST, that’s currently underway in Cork, is going to suffer. I hate saying that but it’s true. There you go. If you’re reading this and are involved in this food festival then, well, hate me for it. To make it clear; I don’t have a personal gripe against the organisers (I don’t know the people involved), nor do I have any particular agenda and I have alot of sympathy for those restaurateurs and producers taking stands at the event. It’s just that I have an issue with the following:
1. It’s incredibly expensive to attend, is a rip off (I thought those days of greed were over), and for my mind is extremely bad value for money:
If you attend this afternoon (4 hours) its €15 each (€20 for two)
If you attend this evening (4 hours) its €25 each (€30 for two)
Saturday day (4 hours) its €25 each (€30 for two)
Saturday evening (4 hours) its €25 each (€30 for two)
Sunday day (5 hours) its €25 each (€30 for two)
And that’s before you pay for dishes that range from €3 to €8. These dishes are paid for in ‘Corkers’ which seems to be some silly marketing ploy to make the whole thing sound alternative but really ends up causing more headaches for traders as they have to hold onto tokens before converting them into cash at the end of the day. There are bars and music at the ‘festival’ but so what? A pint is a pint and the music from all accounts is your usual pub stuff. So all in all there’s not much to hold you there except for the great food (of which I expect there is much judging by the restaurants involved). However, to stay means you’re going to have to spend money; to eat, to drink. So, if I was to go with my wife at 6pm it would cost us €30 to get in and then more for food and drink. If we were to stay there for an hour I reckon we’d spend €70 – €90 easily. Not cheap.
2. The cost charged for pitches for small artisan producers (I don’t know the cost for restaurants but it would be much more) is €1,700 for the entire event. After you’ve paid that out you have to pay for electricity, gas, staff, produce. And there’s more – the organisers are looking for 50% of traders earnings (I got this info from the traders themselves so if anyone knows different let me know). A GUBU moment I think. Unbelievable greed and an absolute disgrace. I can state this because I know most of the small producers in Cork and many of them couldn’t or wouldn’t get involved because the costs were prohibitive. And this is a festival celebrating local produce?
3. They organisers could have used Cork companies in the production of the event but chose not to. I will admit that I have a certain interest in this as my company runs most of the artisan festival markets in this city, has good relationships with local marquee companies, sound hire companies, bands, entertainers, etc. Infact, we have, and I say this as fact, more local knowledge than anybody else. Having said that it’s the organisers choice and I’m cool with their decision I just think that if Cork people really believe in Cork and want our local economy to survive then they should be employing local companies before running off elsewhere. It’s the old Irish problem; “if they’re not from here they must be better”. It’s a sad indictment and smacks of an inferiority complex – Cork City Council have the same problem.
4. I’m sick to death of food being used as a status symbol – a symbol of sophistication, culture, education and class. Ireland continues to believe it’s a classless state but we all the truth of it. It’s pathetic and we in Ireland have being using food as a means to differentiate ourselves from each other for years. Yes, good food can be cost prohibitive for people however that does not excuse the snobbery associated with it.
So there you have it. I’m giving out and I don’t care. I’m just tired of seeing organisations taking advantage of people who are truly good at what they do (in this case chefs and local producers) in order to market themselves and maximise profit. The TASTEFEST should be about celebrating the best of local produce, beautiful food and the people who make it happen not about making a quick buck. If the cultural life of the city is to grow, become interesting, diverse, eclectic then the City Council and Tourism Ireland should think carefully about how they spend OUR money. This short term, ill thought out, trend obsessed, delusionary space they live in will only leave the tail wagging the dog. In other words money and its vested interests will continue to unduly influence our cultural lives. It must stop.
In the run up to this event I happened to notice a similar event happening on Clapham Common in London called The Big Feastival which is happening from 1st – 3rd July.
A one day (note it’s for a full day) pass costs €40 (includes music and festival entertainment and free activities and all dishes €5.50).
For your €40 you get; an artisan market, funfair, gardening workshops, schools scarecrow competitions, Romany inspired tea garden, BBQ competition, baking competition, craft stalls, talks, kids activities, kitchen skills workshops, cooking demonstrations from Michelin starred chefs as well as comedy and music acts such as Soul II Soul, Roots Manuva, The Charlatans, Norman Jay, The Guillemots and lots more besides. Now that’s good value. Thats a festival done right.
Now before you say, ‘it’s not a fair comparison as the budgets are very different’ I just want to make my point – THE APPROACH IS VERY DIFFERENT. It’s all about the approach, the concept, the philosophy, none of which cost money. Just ATTITUDE and a little CREATIVITY.
We can do better. We must do better, come on, we’re smart and limitations are a creative imperative. Go with it. We just need to work more together and think about why we’re doing it and who we’re doing it for…
Let me know if you totally disagree, tell me I’m a moany bastard, tell me you loved it, I’d love to hear from you. I’m all for more events happening, I want more to happen, I want more people to get involved, I’d love to see new ideas and I bear no grudges or ill will. I’m just fed up with all this silliness, stupidity and self serving shit that we’re meant to believe is a great addition to the cultural life of the city.
501 total views, 1 today