About

It all began over a pint…

Back in 2004 a group of locals was lamenting the decline of Stone’s beautiful Georgian High Street in one of the town’s many fine hostelries. “What we need is something like Ludlow – a food festival!” Little did the gentleman who uttered those words know that, within just a few years, his gem of an idea would have grown into Staffordshire’s biggest gastronomic gathering.

From humble beginnings in the High Street and the Crown Hotel ball room, the festival has blossomed into a real celebration of food & drink that visitors travel miles to attend; marking the first weekend of October every year as a red letter day in the foodie calendar.

It’s all about the town (and the food!)

A not-for-profit Community Interest Company (CIC) the aim of the festival remains, as it always has been, to help promote the town of Stone. It brings visitors – and their cash – into the area to give local businesses a boost while providing a fun-filled event for the community. Over the years, it has also become a platform for the promotion of Staffordshire as a foodie destination – showcasing the county’s finest culinary talent alongside the very best of its artisan produce.

Directors

Richard Stevens

Richard Stevens

Richard Stevens has been festival chairman from the start, growing the festival from its humble beginnings – with the sterling efforts of the festival team – to the major foodie event it is today. He’s passionate about great food, real ales and live music, and the festival’s role in attracting thousands of people to the town he loves.

Mick Powell

Mick Powell

Mick Powell is a festival director and our site manager. He’s the man who ensures our wonderful Westbridge Park site gets built safely and on time each year – everything from marquees and toilets to outside concessions and plastic roadways. His favourite time each year? One minute past twelve on opening day, when everything is ready for the thousands of visitors who come flooding on to the site.

Tim O’Malley

Tim O’Malley

Tim O’Malley is an accountant who brings his invaluable skills in this area to the table – and he’s a pretty nifty litter-picker, too. His dad was a drayman for Joules’s Brewery in Stone many moons ago, and Tim worked there himself in the summer holidays. Beer’s in the blood, Tim says, so the festival beer tent, featuring Staffordshire’s finest brewers, is a favourite of his. You can hear Tim’s dulcet tones over the tannoy all festival weekend, keeping visitors up to speed with what’s happening where.

Charlotte Eglington

Charlotte Eglington

Charlotte Eglington runs Squash PR. Since 2011 she’s worked with us to make sure everyone knows about the festival through marketing and social media, and manages communication with visitors. A hive of creativity, she was invited onto the Board of Directors in 2014 and in this role plays a big part in developing new events and attractions to keep the festival fresh and exciting. A mum of two children, she is passionate about little ones being involved in the festival experience.

Festival faces

Here are some of the long-standing volunteers who help make the event happen – see who you can spot on site in 2019…

Antony Lucas is hard to miss at the festival each year – as host of the Talks & Tastings tent he always looks dapper in his trademark Union flag blazer. You may have also glimpsed Antony on the TV – he’s a background actor, appearing recently in Peaky Blinders and other TV and big screen productions. Most importantly, he has a serious interest in all types of cuisine.

Martin Robinson is our official festival photographer. He’s deeply involved with many aspects of life in the town as a trustee of Stone Common Plot and Oulton Village Hall, as green manager for a local bowls club, and – as a retired horticulturalist – with Oulton Community Group and the Best Kept Village Competition. In fact, he says he’s busier now than when he was working for a living!

Jon Fairburn is Professor of Sustainable Development at Staffordshire University and leads the team of university students and staff who work with us each year. As well as stewarding, working as bus guides and helping with social media coverage, university volunteers manage our visitor survey, which provides us with lots of information to make the festival better each year.

Derrick Hynam – fence erector extraordinaire and custodian of the festival spanner; Alan Goldsmith – a valued member of the site building team; and our fantastic fork lift truck driver Pete Arnold all carry out vital tasks in helping site manager Mick Powell transform Westbridge Park from greenfield site to foodie haven (and back again) over 2 weeks in October.

Collin and Julie Taylor have been with us, in one guise or another, almost since the festival’s start. They have been, and still are, closely involved in lots of projects and events in Stone. At the festival, Collin is our compere in the demonstration kitchen, while Julie is the main entrance team manager. As well as rugby, gardening and travel, dining out is a major hobby – then trying to recreate the dishes themselves.

Dave Williams organises our live music stage and makes sure the crowds are entertained each year by a host of brilliant local bands. A member of The Formula and Tequila Rose, he’s a regular on the Staffordshire live music circuit.

Rob Smith runs the festival park-and-ride scheme which shuttles visitors between Westbridge Park and nearby Aston Marina, an award-winning restaurant and events venue. He plays a vital role in making sure visitors get to and from the festival site safely each year – while helping to keep the town centre free of extra traffic.

Our ‘Kitchen Fairies’, as they’re affectionately known, keep everything running smoothly in the demonstration tent. Wendy Powell and Elaine Robinson, plus their team of willing helpers, make sure no knife or colander is missing for each chef’s session – and are the fastest pot-washers in the West!

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