Bolton makes a meal of it
PUBLISHED: 08:33 12 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:31 20 February 2013
The success of Bolton Market is spreading far and wide so it's no surprise that this year's food festival is going to be better than ever. Amanda Griffiths reports <br/>Photography by Kirsty Thompson
Bolton has been famous for more things than youve had hot dinners. Now, they are becoming famous for hot dinners, too!
The people of this celebrated Lancashire town have been at the forefront of so many things over the centuries. They were a rebellious lot, supporting Cromwell and then the Chartists. They were also an industrious lot with early wool and cotton weaving and countless developments which fired the Victorian age.
Theyve produced some sublime architecture such as Le Mans Crescent and they produced sons and daughters who have become giants of entertainment and sport.
Theyve had a lot on their plates and now they want more. The Bolton Food Festival which has attracted 40,000 visitors as well as top names such as The Hairy Bikers and James Martin, will be held for the fifth time from August 27 to 30. It has become one of the biggest and the best.
This year, Im A CelebrityGet Me Out Of Here winner, chef Gino DAcampo, will be bringing a touch of delicious Italy to the event, which will be a relief to TV fans who watched him cooking rats in Australian.
Gino, a regular on Ready, Steady, Cook and Saturday Kitchen, will be doing three live shows at the food festival on Sunday, August 29. The Hairy Bikers and James Martin will also be there over the three days.
Ill do a couple of pasta dishes of course and a traditional tiramisu, but Im also going to do a couple of dishes using local ingredients, says Gino. I dont know what theyll be yet. It will be a case of looking around the festival to see what is on offer and then putting something together.
Im very excited to come to Bolton - people are very passionate about food and its a great opportunity for me to meet my fans.
I never cook alone at these things; I always bring members of the audience on to the stage to cook with me. Its about showing them that food doesnt need to be complicated.
Everybody is more aware nowadays of what theyre buying and supporting local producers. When I grew up in Naples going to individual places to get your ingredients was the way of life. Supermarkets have their place but they cant rival the knowledge that specialist suppliers have in their area.
Gino wont have to go far to see some fine local produce. Taking place in the market place at Victoria Square, the festival will be heavily supported by Bolton Market which has been enjoying its own success.
As well as winning a number of awards, Bolton Market was chosen by TV producers as a location for the Good Food Channels Market Kitchen programme - a particular coup for the town as the show has previously only ever been filmed on location at Londons Borough Market.
From winning Retailer of the Year at the Manchester Tourism Awards last year to the Best Indoor Market award this year, Bolton Market really has gone from strength to strength, says Councillor Akhtar Zaman, Bolton Councils environmental services chief. This filming is recognition that Bolton Market really is a great place to shop.
Jackie Casey, Acting Market Manager agrees. You can get just about anything you want or need at Bolton Market, she says. I think people are still surprised at the variety of produce. Our USP is food. We cater for all tastes, reflecting the diversity of Boltons community. Even I was surprised when asked to get the names of some of the fish featured on Market Kitchen. I found 35 different types - and that was on just one stall!
Last year we had more than 2.5 million visitors to the market; which supports more than 200 small businesses. We saw more than 250 coach parties arrive at the market - thats probably 100 more than usual and is probably down to the awards.
Bolton had a strong market anyway, but I think the recession has had a positive effect for us. I think people started looking for different options for shopping. Were looking at a generation most of whom have only ever gone to the supermarket to do their shopping. The recession forced them to look at the way they shopped.
What comes across is that at the market people are only too pleased to show you how to prepare the produce and suggest how to cook it, Jackie added.
The food festival is a great opportunity for traders to come out and showcase their products to people who might not have used the market for years. People try it for the first time looking for a different kind of shopping experience and hopefully keep coming.
The awards are important but were always looking at ways to improve. Things like going to the Freshers Fair at the university each year help this. We give out Bolton Market bags with five pieces of fruit in, take their contact details and can email them offers and things going on at the market.
Boltons councillors and tourism officers are also delighted that the town will be welcoming back the Ironman Triathlon at the beginning of August. The competition took place in the town for the first time last year, attracting 1,500 athletes, their families and friends from more than 35 countries and helped inject around 4.2 million into the local economy.
The gruelling 140 mile triathlon features a 2.4 mile swim in Pennington Flash in Leigh, near Wigan, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run finishing outside Bolton Town Hall.
Ironman UK is a distinctive major event which attracts athletes and spectators from across the globe, says Sheldon Phillips, of the Northwest Regional Development Agency. The economic impact from 2009 has surpassed all our expectations and demonstrates not only the success
of the first Ironman UK to take place in Bolton, but also how the local area has benefitted.