The sixth annual Galway Food Festival will take place over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend from April 13-17. This year the festival’s theme will celebrate the relationship between ‘Food and Community’ through an innovative food programme of over 100 events, focusing on Galway’s 21st Century cultural identity through food.
Festival 2017 is keen to build on Galway’s growing reputation as the Food Capital of the Wild Atlantic Way through the extended involvement of food producers, suppliers and outlets located along the western seaboard, and in the festival’s markets and events programme. And with Galway being selected as the European Region of Gastronomy in 2018, the Festival will build on Galway’s food story and the important role food tourism will play throughout the entire West coast.
The theme of ‘Community and Food’ will feature a stimulating programme of over 100 food-based events celebrating the importance of sharing food together to promote a healthy community that starts in the home. Through an extensive programme of talks, workshops, tours and in-house events, the festival will encourage people to reconnect with where their food comes from, tapping back into our knowledge of what nature can provide for us.
A spotlight to unite several diverse communities and groups that exist within Galway City and County will showcase what their relationship with food is like and the culture of how they share their food together. Communities will include new immigrants, sports, schools and youth groups, and the restaurant and food community. It aims to highlight the strength among the Galway food community and their contribution to Galway food.
Food is not just fuel
Commenting on this year’s festival theme, organiser, Heather Flaherty said: “Food is not just fuel for the body. Food is about family, food is about community, food is about identity. And we nourish all those things when we eat well. When we start trying to make healthier choices, we discover many of the choices that are good for our own personal health are also good for the environment, our community, and our local economy.
“It’s a virtuous cycle. Choosing the right food for our bodies and mind helps the environment and the farmers. There’s an incredible ripple effect way beyond that one choice. Every day, citizens are creating a better world through their individual and community food choices.
“We want to get Galway asking questions. What are the choices that we make about food? What can we do as a member of a community? Can we influence how our children’s school looks at food and their role in purchasing and growing food? Is there something you can do with your friends or your colleagues?” she said.
Festival organiser, Michelle Crehan added: “Buying local is just one of the obvious answers to supporting our food community. When you spend your money with a local shop and farmer, that money goes back into the local economy. The farmer and shop pays the employees, the employees shop at local stores and send their children to the local schools. All of the money stays local, which in turn helps us sustain our livelihoods and provides everybody with the freshest food possible. Changing our relationship to food and the purchase of local food has a global ripple effect. And sharing food and conversation around the dinner table makes for happier, healthier Galway families.”
Festival events celebrating ‘Community and Food’ will include the pairing of diverse community groups with award-winning chefs to work together in creating a healthier and happier life through good food. Sports teams will visit community gardens to learn about healthy eating; immigrant communities living in Galway will come together to share their food culture; linking different sectors within the food industry and challenging them to work together; and a massive ‘community pot luck’ - a tradition where families or guests bring a cultural dish from their particular country of origin and it is shared among the community.
Asking grandparents about food
Galway Food Festival and Slow Food Galway will collaborate on My Grannies’ Recipes inviting the public to explore food with your Grandmother (or Grandfather, Aunt, Uncle or Parent ). Young people are encouraged talk to their grandparents or other family members about food, asking the questions; What they liked to eat when they were young? Historical family food stories they may have and traditional recipes that have been passed down through generations? The Festival will select the 10 best entries to showcase their recipes and a dish at The Kitchen Restaurant in Galway City Museum on Good Friday. The winner and runner-up will win a cookery demo with one of Galway’s top chefs for themselves and their class.
Breaking Bread, a community-driven event, will bring together various cultural, religious, sporting and special interest groups to share food, stories and ideas. The event will be hosted by Galway Food Festival in conjunction with Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture and hopes to create a legacy of community inclusion and collaboration, and will include a charity food drive.
The Festival will also initiate The 5-Day Week Challenge, a campaign challenging families to share five meals together each week, in partnership with ALIVE charity, promoting positive mental health and wellbeing. The challenge will highlight the numerous benefits of sharing food in terms of food education, life skills, an enjoyable way of communicating and sharing stories with family at the table while discussing the issues of the day that might be present.
Visitors can once again savour the many foods available at the open air markets and Festival Village at Fish Market Square, Spanish Arch. Additional events will include an extended food trail, the ever popular talks at Druid’s Mick Lally Theatre, the ‘Made in Galway’ demo tent and an expansion of the eclectic programme of Food Tours. There will be lots of in-house events that will include exciting pop ups, cocktail classes, wine and whiskey tastings and a comprehensive schedule of talks on a range of topical issues within the food and drinks industry.
Over 70,000 people attended events at last year’s festival, which drew huge interest among the national and local media and a resulted in a marked increase in the number of domestic and international visitors who travelled to Galway specifically for the festival.
Festival applications are open until Friday, 24 February. Markets interested in participating can email [email protected] Festival participants (restaurants, bars, cafes and food retailers ) can contact [email protected]