Food and families festival organisers defend move away from town centre

Ottery St Mary Food and Families Festival.

Ottery St Mary Food and Families Festival. - Credit: Archant

The organisers of Ottery’s annual food festival have defended their decision to move the event a mile outside town centre.

Since it started in 2012, the Ottery St Mary Food and Families Festival has been based in the heart of town, attracting large crowds.

However, organisers said hosting the event in the centre of Ottery was 'no longer an option' due to the unavailability of space at Sainsbury's car park and the rising costs of road closures and insurance.

Town business owners suggested relocating to Land of Canaan but issues over vehicle access and security meant it was not viable.

Otter Garden Centre stepped in and organisers are hopeful of a 'true festival atmosphere' at the event's new home.

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A spokesman for the festival said: "We would have loved nothing more than to stay in the heart of the town…it creates a great atmosphere, and brings people together, and into the town.

"However, sadly, doing what we've been doing for the past seven years was no longer an option.

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"Ottery St Mary Food and Families is run by hard-working volunteers.

"It is this dedicated group that carries all the responsibility, so they need to feel comfortable with how it's done.

"If these people weren't prepared to do this, there would be no festival at all."

Organisers said with the festival becoming so spread across Sainsbury's car park, in Broad Street and Mill Street, the event had become 'unmanageable' in its current location.

Land of Canaan was suggested as an alternative venue, but festival organisers said this would result in a 'much watered down' event.

The statement said: "None of the volunteers wanted to be associated with a half-baked alternative."

Otter Garden Centre, which has been a headline sponsor for the last five years, offered the festival its space.

The new location will allow for a bigger market, a children's marquee chose the street food and drink vendors and entertainment next to the seating area.

The festival, which takes place on Saturday, May 30, will be offering a free shuttle bus, running all day, at 10-15 minute intervals.

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