‘Our exceptional farmers are opening their gates to tourists’

A number of farm visits will draw tourists to the Enniscorthy Rockin’ Food Festival, which will run from Friday, August 2, to Monday, August 5.

“Wexford is known as the model county for its exceptional farming and food heritage, dating back thousands of years,” said Jean O’Connell, event manager for the festival.

“As co-founder of Taste Wexford, I absolutely love seeing Wexford food producers coming to the forefront of the food scene and appearing more frequently on menus in restaurants; cafes; hotels; B&Bs; and speciality grocers.

We have always had exceptional farmers but now they are opening their gates to tourists to meet, learn and taste the unique food. It’s an exceptional experience for the tourists and a powerful way to buy into the brand for food producers.

Visitors to the bank holiday event will get the opportunity to meet the farmers behind the Regan organic farm.

Mary Regan has overcome numerous challenges to establish a highly successful organic chicken and pig enterprise. She has done this in harmony with nature at Dranagh, Caim, Enniscorthy, on land passed onto her by her late father, Tom.

Also taking part will be Cyril and Margaret Wheelock of Wheelock Fruits, Enniscorthy. On 17ac, the enterprise involves growing a range of fruit including: strawberries; raspberries; gooseberries; pumpkins; tayberries; blackcurrants; and rhubarb.

Last December, the Wheelers opened a new visitors’ centre, ‘The Village at Wheelocks,’ incorporating a cafe; forest and lake walks; a children’s play zone; and outdoor picnic area.

They will outline the farm’s history and discuss the varieties of fruit grown. Visitors will get to tour the custom-built tunnels and learn how to pot strawberry plants and pick fruit.

Goats’ milk

Open for visits too will be Meadowfield Farm, Garrylough, Screen, owned by John Joe and Marisa Roche.

They established a goats’ milk business in 2015 in Co. Wexford after identifying a gap in the Irish market. Their herd of goats is fed on a grass and herb diet. Visitors will be able to get hands on, milking the goats and learning the process of making instant ice cream or goats’ cheese from the milk.

Eoin Sharkey of Maperath Farm will be hosting a mobile farm which will teach young festival goers the importance of sustainable farming and good animal welfare practices. Children will be able to meet, interact and learn about the variety of farm animals and how they are reared.

Bound to catch children’s imagination at the Enniscorthy Rockin’ Food Festival is the competition to grow their own grass head. The workshop is designed to raise awareness of the importance of water and sustainability in everyday life through their grass head, highlighting how easy it is to pollute and waste it.

Shortlisted

The festival, which was recently shortlisted for Ireland’s best cultural experience and Ireland’s best tourism initiative, is returning with what the organisers hail as its busiest weekend to date.

Revellers will get to relive the 1950s as some of the biggest names in rock ’n’ roll will hit the outdoor main stage and rock ’n’ roll gig trail including the Hicksville Bombers; The Revolutionaires; and Sharna May and The Mayhems.

Over 100 food, drink and craft vendors will take over Enniscorthy’s streets for the free artisan festival market. There will be a food marquee and a programme of cookery demonstrations, tastings and health talks.

The schedule will incorporate a ‘high in the sky G&T’; a live bee showcase; craft beer and chocolate pairing; a goats’ milk ice-cream demo; a vintage retro rock ’n’ roll shop; and other fringe events.

Children’s events will include: interactive science workshops; kayaking sessions; cooking classes; yoga; rooftop ancient east storytelling; and slime making.

The Enniscorthy Arts Trail (EAT) programme will include a range of pop-up galleries; children’s doodle studios; street projections and teaser drama productions.

There will also be the launch of a ‘Rock & Recycle’ campaign, a ‘green’ initiative that will see the festival progress towards a more environmentally friendly event.

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