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Record-breaking 80,000 visitors attend Galway Food Festival

Wednesday, 19th April, 2017 12:45pm

The sixth annual Galway Food Festival welcomed a record-breaking 80,000 visitors to Galway over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend.

Visitors attended the many in-house tasting events, food tours, food talks, the open air market at Fishmarket Square, Halla Bia at the former Connacht Tribune Print Works and Breaking Bread on Easter Monday.

Businesses around the city also confirmed a bumper weekend of sales resulting from the thousands of visitors who flocked into Galway to avail of the 100 food-based food events celebrating ‘Food and the Community’ during the four-day festival.

Huge numbers visited Galway’s first temporary indoor Food Hall ‘Halla Bia’ where almost 30 indigenous food producers from along the Wild Atlantic Way showcased their produce. All of the producers commented that the impact of meeting new customers and networking with retailers face-to-face was of huge benefit to their business, with most selling-out of their produce on Easter Saturday and having to replenish stock for Easter Sunday.

Breda Fox, Head of Local Enterprise Office Galway, said: “Local Enterprise Office Galway was delighted to support Halla Bia at this year’s festival. The event proved hugely successful with all businesses in the food hall reporting strong sales from the high level of footfall through the market over the three days.”

She added that the venue was a “great location”, hosting more than 25 traders.

“We are delighted to support the Festival as it provides an excellent opportunity to get small stage food businesses in front of a large audience. Thanks to Pearse, Aoife and all the organising team for taking on the organisation and allowing our input at all stages of the event.”

Another festival hit that attracted huge crowds was Breaking Bread on Easter Monday. Several community groups living in Galway prepared and shared their traditional and modern dishes with thousands of visitors who got to taste foods from around the world. Community groups who showcased their dishes included the Indian, Malaysian, Lithuanian, Traveller, Mexican, Nigerian, Polish, Ghanaian, and French communities. It also included members from One World Tapestry Group, Residents of Great Western Direct Provision Centres and Residents of Eglinton House in Galway.

Speaking about 2017 events, festival organiser and owner of Builín Blasta Café and Bakery in Spiddal, Heather Flaherty, said: “This year’s festival saw two inaugural events for the Festival: Halla Bia, Galway's first indoor market and Breaking Bread. Both events were a phenomenal success. Halla Bia opened a dialogue among traders, the public and the City Council about the importance of a permanent indoor market for Galway. The support from all parties indicates that the drive and desire is there for a permanent space to showcase and highlight the fabulous products and producers in Galway City and County. A permanent indoor market would give small businesses a great place to start and grow their business and would contribute hugely to Galway's already thriving food industry.

“Breaking Bread brought over 14 different cultural communities together in one place to share their food and their stories, and the variety and diversity at the event was staggering. Galway is a melting pot of different communities and it is time to embrace them, welcome them and learn about their culture and their food. It was an event that opened doors and hearts, inspired new projects and collaborations and highlighted the importance that food has in bringing people together. Huge thanks to Galway 2020 and Creative Ireland for helping us put this event together.”

Galway Food Festival organiser Jp McMahon also commented, "This year's festival was the most successful to date with thousands attending the various events on over the weekend. It shows that Galway has a great appetite for good food and a community spirit of inclusion. It wouldn't be possible without the wider community supporting local businesses."

Galway Food Festival 2017 was the first official outing and major public awareness campaign since Galway was designated European Region of Gastronomy for 2018.

Speaking about the weekend Alan Farrell, Senior Executive Officer with Galway County Council and one of the drivers of the ERG said: “The weekend was a phenomenal success and an excellent example of how a strong partnership and cooperative working can have a huge impact. ERG is about all of us, it needs buy-in from all members of the community in order for it to reach its potential and if last weekend is anything to go by, that is there in abundance.”

Rory McCormack from Handsome Burger who participated for the first time at the Festival and was based at the Festival Village at Fishmarket Square, said: “As a new business we had marked out the weekend as a way of putting ourselves beside all of the larger, established businesses in town. Once all of the build-up and hard work was done the weekend couldn't have gone any better. With massive queues, plenty of good food served and lots of great feedback, everything went like a dream. Hopefully we can now use this as a spring board to really growing our business.”

For Galway Food Festival photos and highlights visit www.galwayfoodfestival.com. Follow Galway Food Festival on Facebook and on Twitter @Galwayfood and #GFF17.

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