Among the suppliers of food at the IW Festival are a number if local producers: some in the tent that comes as part of the deal between the council and festival organiser Solo, and one enterprising individual – Dunsbury Lamb. And what a difference there is between the two.
The council’s tent of doom contains a IW Tourism stand and stalls from a handful of local producers: Arreton’s Tomato Stall, Rosemary Vineyard, The Garlic Farm, and Calbourne Classics ice cream to name a few. All are excellent local produceds, but the showcase of the tent is dire. The tent is located off-pitch for the second time, off the main thoroughfare that links Strawberry Fields with the main arena, and therefore the footfall past it is lower that that past this year’s artistic sand sculptures on the main route of the connecting triangle.
The tent is uninviting, and this year the floor was treacherous underfoot, with three-inch strips of hazard tape placed every yard or so to hint that the floor was uneven. The tent acts so as to hide its producers rather than bringing them outside where they can be more easily seen, and the whole affair looks little better than food stalls at a church fete. Every time I walked past, which was frequent as I took that route by preference to get to the Big Top, there were very few people in the tent and business must have been slow.
Compare that with Dunsbury Lamb, whose catering trailer really took its product to festival goers by competing on equal terms with other food vendors. I ate there twice, choosing the excellent lamb tagine (a meaty lamb stew with peppers) – a menu option that sold out each day of the festival. It really was a most excellent dish, coming in a bread bowl that could be eaten afterwards, leaving only a paper serviette and a wooden fork as rubbish.
Of course, it takes quite an investment to escalate a stand from a table with a banner to a full-blown trailer purpose built for outside events. As a trader with a table and a banner myself, I appreciate that a more professional set-up is out of the question financially. However, it’s not the real problem: the problem lies with having the IW produce stands in a dark tent that hides more than it reveals. If the council seeks to promote the Island, it really needs to put on a welcoming front.