Ottery Food and Families Festival hopes for central spot this summer

Saira Hamilton and Tina Chauhan-Challis demonstrating their skills at last year's Ottery St Mary Foo

Saira Hamilton and Tina Chauhan-Challis demonstrating their skills at last year's Ottery St Mary Food and Families Festival. Ref sho 5711-25-14SH Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

A bid to host an annual festival in Ottery’s former market square for the first time this summer is being backed by business representatives.

Organisers of the Food and Families Festival have submitted an application to pedestrianise Broad Street to accommodate market stalls for nine hours on June 6.

A decision from Devon County Council is expected this week.

Under the plans, food and drink market stalls would be set up in Broad Street, replacing the stands that previously ran along Mill Street – which remained open to traffic throughout.

Sainsbury’s car park would still host cooking demonstrations, a bar and hot street food, as it has since the festival began in 2013.

Organiser Ruud Jansen Venneboer of Mazzard Farm, said the Broad Street site – once home to a twice-weekly farmers market – would be safer for festivalgoers and benefit local businesses.

“We appreciate the fact that it is closing off a major channel through the town, but it’s only nine hours out of 365 days,” he said.

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“It’s a special day for Ottery and most people leave their cars at home to come to the festival anyway.

“We have consulted widely with many parties, including businesses, and most have been very supportive.”

He said progress was slow because a number of factors needed to be addressed, including ensuring emergency services were not hindered by the road closure.

Highways bosses are also concerned about keeping traffic moving through the town and disruption to bus services.

Chamber of commerce chairman John Campion said: “Anything that can bring trade into the town must be welcomed.

“Last year, the festival was held in Sainsbury’s car park, so people would park in the long stay car park by the Land of Canaan and then go to the festival and not come into town.”

He also revealed the chamber is hoping to decorate the town with a host of colourful flags.

Inspired by a flag festival in Moretonhampstead last year, Mr Campion trialled the idea in Ottery and within a week, received requests from 15 businesses to hang the colourful fixtures.

He now hopes to have 30 to 40 flags made, with personalised Ottery designs to provide a cheerful welcome from the end of May, throughout the summer.

The idea will be funded by businesses in the town.

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