Oswestry Food and Drink Festival
Fine Foods, Wine, Beer at the Oswestry Food and Drink Festival
Food and Drink Festival July 11th -12th 2015
Is it fair to assume you've never enjoyed the Oswestry Festival? Maybe you've never even heard of it. But it was such a great discovery for us, I want to share it with you. Maybe we'll bump into each other there, next time around.
Street Fairs are popular all over the world but success depends on the money available, the renown, the location, the weather (!) and how well the fair is marketed through the media. The Oswestry Food and Drink Fair that takes place on a weekend in early July, is of the top attractions of the summer in the county of Shropshire.
We visited the Oswestry Fair in 2013 for first time and we are determined to make it an annual event given the quality and variety of things to see. Oswestry is a wonderful historic 'Welsh Border' town now firmly cemented to England even though it has changed sides several times on the past. There is a lot of history in the town that links it to both England and Wales and it is well worth a visit. The fair is the icing on the cake.
(All Photos copyright of the author unless otherwise stated)
Oswestry Food and Drink Festival 2014
I think I will make this an annual theme, to capture the balloon colour chosen for the festival. This year it is pink and the lady graciously allowed a photograph. I was so pleased as I had captured the green ones last year.
The weather had threatened to be inclement but in the end the rain fizzled and took longer to arrive, so the day was quite warm and muggy, perfect for drinking and eating outdoors. This really is a lovely festival, deserves all the support and I recommend anyone visiting Shropshire in July to make it a stop on their itinerary
Old Llwyd House
History of Oswestry
Oswestry is very ancient possibly as far back as 3000 years. However the proper record begins in Saxon times with the battle of Maserfield between King Penda of Mercia and Oswald from Northumbria.
Oswald was killed and the location where he fell became a shrine. Visitors and pilgrims led to a need for feeding, clothing and housing and thus began the foundation of Oswestry.
The name is said to be derived from the tree by which he fell, Oswald's tree, however Oswestry is a classic Welsh border town and has swapped countries many times, the Welsh word for town is tref and the f is often dropped so the town could equally be Oswald's town. The Welsh for Oswestry is CroesOswallt or Oswald's Cross so no matter how you look at it, this place is all about Oswald.
History of Oswestry
Into the Modern age but linked to the past
The market was chartered in 1190 but the town was burned to the ground in the wars of Owain Glyndwr. A royalist stronghold in the civil war until the castle was destroyed by the roundheads in 1644.
Today the town flourishes and despite modern traffic it has managed to retain the appeal of a quiet border town with a strong mix of English and Welsh culture. Many of the buildings and taverns date back hundreds of years and make a visit to Oswestry a trip back in time.
Oswestry Food and Drink Festival Stalls
Cakes, cakes and more cakes
Central to the Oswestry Food and Drink Festival is of course the food and drink. There is an incredible variety centred on where Cross St meets Bailey St, also the location of the Llwyd Mansion that dates from 1604.
The booths extend along both roads and offer every kind of food you can imagine. Cakes came in two varieties either the full cake sold to be taken home or the cupcake which were very often eaten on the spot. And if you wanted to finish your dining with a treat, there were plenty of stores offering biscuits, cookies and sweets.
Further up towards the town square at the top of Bailey Street there was a regular market that was selling fruit to vegetables where we picked up some of the most beautiful strawberries that I have ever tasted.
More Oswestry Food and Drink Stalls
Bread, bread and more bread
This year we found this fantastic bread stand and purchased a couple of the loaves as we watched the brisk sales.
There are beers made by microbreweries that offer small samples to allow you to try the different styles and there is really no pressure to buy a bottle, but of course you do!
There are cheese stands which seem to have every imaginable variety and plenty I never seen or heard of before. There was also hot food like hamburgers, sausages and pizza slices that definitely catered to on the spot eating.
Oswestry Food and Drink Festival Headquarters
Where the boss resides
This marquee was quite prominent on the high street and has all kinds of information as to what to do and what to see. I found the people knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
This year they seemed particularly pleased how well everything had been going. Privately I think there was a huge collective sigh of relief that the weather gods had been kind.
Oswestry Food and Drink Festival
The official website
The festival is well advertised on the internet. You can reach it via this link at the bottom of this article. It usually provides information on the upcoming fair or reports on the one just completed.
The town council is very supportive of the festival and is actively involved in the organisation of the weekend. You can find a link to the website at the bottom of this article. If you go next year or in future years be sure to drop by and tell me of your experiences.
Music and Entertainment
Busking at the festival
Musicians providing entertainment is an important part of the festival and they are a great diversion from all the food on sale.
The main attraction at the time of my visit were a mother and daughter team providing some excellent sounds and a lot of fun to watch.
They were set up in front of the HSBC bank building and there was a substantial crowd watching the proceedings. I ate my hot dog while I watched.
Oswestry Dining and Accommodation
Oswestry has a great selection of places to dine. The age of the town also means many of the establishments have amazing histories.
Much has survived the ravages of time and many now offer excellent value for money. The Butchers Arms is a good example.
There is also the beautiful Wynnstay Hotel and of course a travelodge. If you are looking for somewhere with character there is the family run business of The Laurels that dates from 1899. Most good travel sites will give a wide variety of places to stay.
The Olive Man
My favourite pit stop
Does anyone out there not love olives. Aren't they just the most scrumptious delicious wonderful fruit/vegetable that God ever put on this earth. No wonder the Greeks and Romans loved them. No wonder the bible is littered with them.
Green or black, sweet or sour I love them. I was in Portugal January 2014 and walked through wild woods where they grew native. They were much smaller than the cultivated ones from the orchards but amazing to see.
Here is my friendly Frenchman with his huge table of olives that I buy from every year and trust me they are the best ever.
Oswestry on the web - Websites related to the Oswestry Food and Drink Festival
The delight of outdoor street markets
Do you visit outdoor street markets
Street map of Oswestry
© 2014 Christine and Peter Broster