One of the big success stories of last year’s Strokestown Show was the Flavours from the Heart of Ireland Food Fair, which took place across both days for the first time.
The food fair returns this year with between 45 and 50 artisan food and drinks producers and the organisers have once again secured some top talent, including Operation Transformation contestant, Gary O’Hanlon and fellow celebrity chef Neven Maguire.
Organiser Margaret Kelly was delighted with the response last year.
“We really were astonished by how well it was received. It really did go down well,” she said.
Gemma Flanagan is also a part of the organising committee and she highlighted the role played by celebrity chefs in attracting people to the Show.
“We found that the celebrity chefs, Neven and Gary, really drew a big crowd, the crowds came to see them and then the stalls benefitted from that. The footfall is what the stallholders want. Last year we didn’t know what our footfall was going to be but this year we can say it will be 3,000 each day,” she added.
The organisers have confirmed a large selection of stallholders will be in attendance at this year’s Show.
Anna Hogan said the return of so many from last year is testament to the success of the event.
“The fact that they are returning tells you they were happy (with how it went last year). Even the fact that Gary (O’Hanlon), Neven (Maguire), My Nutrition, Vinny Meldrum are all coming back for a second year is testament to what they thought about last year’s event,” she said.
Chefs present at this year’s Strokestown Show will be Neven Maguire, Gary O’Hanlon, My Nutrition, Vinny Meldrum and Adrian Gill.
Longford’s VM Restaurant head chef and 2017 Operation Transformation contestant, Gary O’Hanlon, was delighted with the success of last year’s Show.
“Last year Margaret gave me a call and I guess for all the years that the Strokestown Show was going I was surprised that it was the first year that there was a food offering.
“I couldn’t believe it, they’d got a good few food producers in so they had the food producer tent and then obviously the demo tent which was an extension of that. I’m doing festivals for a long time and yet it really was a surprise to see the tent was absolutely ‘jammers’,” he said.
The Donegal native was looking forward to demonstrating his skills for foodies in the area.
“It’s in our catchment area so we get a good following from Roscommon and Strokestown and surrounding areas. The beauty of that is you have people that have actually experienced the restaurant as well and Neven will tell you the exact same thing. There are people who will chat to you about the dishes you cook on the day as well as being in the restaurant.
“There was a really good buzz and a good feeling about the Show last year. I can see this getting bigger again in terms of the food this year.”
The RTE cameras will also be accompanying Gary to this year’s Show as he prepares to take on the Operation Transformation challenge!
“This festival’s going to be the first time where I’m showing the public face. By the time I’m at the demonstration tent on Saturday the 9th I’m going to be about a week and a half (into Operation Transformation) and hopefully six or seven pounds the lighter! Hopefully there’s a wee bit more of a pep in my step whenever I’m going up on the stage!”
This year’s Flavours from the Heart of Ireland will run throughout Saturday and Sunday (9th and 10th) and promises an extensive offering from food and drink producers from across Ireland as well as some top class demonstrations from celebrity chefs and nutritionists.