Or as Bernie the new marketing & events manager said, it was the luck of the Irish, but however it might have come about we were all basking in the sunshine once again for the cider festival. Although this year it wasn't really the cider festival as we have come to know it over the last 12 or so years, as Brogdale's events team have decided to go with more of a family feel and abandoned the old barn for a smart marquee in the showfield. A bit of a sea change for the regulars who have been coming for years - no more Tiddly Pomme 'fruity folk' bar with its 60 ciders and perrys on offer, but instead professional mobile bar operators offered a handful of local ciders alongside the usual beers, wines and Magners (there was even a Magners seating area), although Biddenden Vineyards did have a stall too. Add a couple of good bands into the mix, some free face painting for the kids, a modest number of good local food producers and caterers, and tractor trailer rides around the orchards, and most people seemed content. The sunshine was the star of the show of course!
They tell us there will be no return to the previous format so we will have to look elsewhere to stage our own annual cider bash. But we will be asking that their 'Great British Food, Cider and Beer Festival 2012' is not billed as the Cider Festival again as it definitely was not that this year, however successful it may have been.
So maybe not our idea of a cider festival, but then we are biased - and the lack of local ciders and perry inside the festival to taste and buy meant they came looking for it at the shop instead so we had a fantastic weekend for sales - sold out Saturday and had to beg our lovely ciderists to give Match of the Day a miss and get more barrels in to us on Sunday morning. Double Vision's Strawberry was the bestseller of the weekend for us, and as we had nothing to do with the festival bar this year we had a lot less work to do, even if we did miss out on all the fun of what used to be our favourite weekend of the year! But the big news is, we're going to start pressing our own cider on site again this autumn so watch this space for the big launch event in the Spring..