The Norfolk Show 2012

Last year I wrote a post entitled The Not Norfolk Show based on my experience from working one day in the food hall at the show. My beef back then was that the hall was mostly filled with producers and commercial outfits selling goods produced far out of Norfolk.

Having just gone back to read it it’s funny how I comment that next year I would definitely go back as a visitor. Who would of thought that 12 months on I was going back as an exhibitor for a Norfolk food producer that I part own?

No the hall wasn’t jam packed with wall to wall Norfolk producers (much the pity) and yes the usual suspects were there, our friends the Mediterranean Deli (with new especially vague branding) were selling their carbmungus cakes and focacias and the ‘fresh’ pork scratchings stand was yet again piling the scratchings on from the bin bags from behind the counter.

So have my views changed 12 months on?

Well not really but having now exhibited there, fought in the trenches to so speak I think I’m probably better placed to speak and in fact rather than another rant I have several ideas to positively improve the hall and indeed the offering of the show.

1st of all I want to say what a wonderful job the stewards do looking after us. It’s hard work exhibiting and I don’t really begin to know what’s involved in stewarding but it seemed to involve a lot of running around for 2 days not to mention all the build up to the show. It’s not a job I envy and they are all to be praised.

I also appreciate that of course it is down to the producer themselves to make it quite clear that they are from Norfolk, that goes without saying.

So in no order of importance here are my ideas, some are simply adopted some need more thought:

  1. Marking the map with the area inside the food hall where the Norfolk producers are found. Rather than just one big grey area.
  2. Issuing vetted Norfolk producers with a recognised Norfolk show certificate. Could be laminated and pinned to the stall where visitors can see officially where they come from. Could even have a star system for sourcing too. For those that source ingredients within Norfolk. Then of course promotion that the certificate system is in place to raise awareness.
  3. A clearly marked area within the hall. By this I mean the ‘Norfolk Producers Zone’ with entry and exit aisles clearly marked. ‘You are now entering/exiting the Norfolk producers zone’ or something similar.
  4. Vouchers to spend on Norfolk producers stands. £1 off if you spend over £10 maybe? I know that I would be happy to participate in this. As I said needs more thought. Or perhaps if people collected loyalty stamps on a card from purchasing from 5/6 local producers they could enter a prize draw or something?
  5. A stand solely for the purpose of educating about local produce and the benefits of buying there of, the local economy, provenance etc etc

What I learned that far from being a Not Norfolk show was that the show celebrates everything that is Norfolk, all its history, all its heritage and all that is good here. I just wish and hope that the show good do a better job at celebrating its producers, many of them artisan, much better.

People need to leave knowing that Norfolk is a land, seemingly far far away that offers the very best food from knowledgeable, passionate and hard working producers.

What are your thoughts? Were you at the show? What did you think to the food hall and the food that was available? Did you know what was produced locally and what wasn’t? Please do leave your comments below.

[PS: if any Norfolk show food hall folk are reading this then I would be more than happy to meet with you to discuss the above ideas or indeed brainstorm others.]

Gary

I love: Norfolk | Food | Cooking | Community | Speaking | Marketing | My Wife x | Great customer service & engagement | Running a business (or 2) | Humour

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4 Comments

  1. Fiona

    I visited for the first time this year, and searched out the people I knew were local (mainly after following them on twitter!) it was so busy there I did feel a little overwhelmed and it would be great to know where all the local producers were with some sort of guide. Not to say people who are not from Norfolk don’t deserve to be there, of course they do, but it would be nice to make more of an informed choice as a visitor. I was a bit gutted to find out (after I had left) that the burger I had was from nowhere near Norfolk. Had I known at the time I might not have chosen it as I was proud to be supporting all things Norfolk on that day. (and most of the time!)

    I am also really looking forward to going back next year!

  2. Also a first time visitor but not from Norfolk I loved the show and will definitely come again (thinking of organising a coach trip from Cambs and massive tweet up!)

    I was really surprised to see so many things ‘not Norfolk’. Massive Yorkshire Clothing Co. stalls rubbing shoulders with Beneton, hats, bags and shoes all made in china etc., as well as the food stalls Gary mentions above.

    Economically, I suppose the show needs to attract stalls from whoever can pay but it would be nice to think that local businesses and producers were given an advantage.

    After the space outside, the food hall seemed very cramped. I was imagining a large lofty and cool space not a crowded hot barn and it was difficult to tell who was local and who wasn’t.

    The food I bought from the Norfolk Deli, Bray’s Pies, My Specialities Preserves (all Twitter contacts) was truly special. There is something wonderful about buying something from the person who made it and looking them in the eye as they tell you what is in it and how it’s made.

    I agree with Gary’s ideas and appreciate that some of them would take a lot of organising but I’d love to see a ‘Made in Norfolk’ area next year. It would make a great day even better.

  3. Hi Gary

    I agree with you so much of the Norfolk show is about celebrating all that is fantastic about Norfolk & giving it the opportunity to be exposed to the visitors that the show attracts . Its a shame the food producers dont get the same recognition .

    There was a chap in the main ring on the second day who talked for 40 minutes about how strong Norfolk Farming was & how important it was to support local farmers . These farmers are the people who’s animals are supplying all the great producers of the vast array of Norfolk products there are out there .

    I think all 5 of your suggestions should be adopted by the show especially the area inside the hall to showcase Norfolk Produce . This would give clear direction to all the visitors from in & outside the region what Norfolk actually produces in the National Food scene .

    One of the reasons why your voices as producers are not being heard is the Norfolk Show has tradition & has been about farming – the Norfolk Artisan food scene is very new in relative terms & farmers by their nature are not marketers & probably are not shouting about the what their great produce is being turned into . If they would shout as well it would give a stronger voice to what is produced in Norfolk .

    I look forward to seeing how you develop this for next years show .

  4. As a newbie to living in Norfolk I really wanted to come along to the show this year and meet the lovely people who work so hard in the region and to support them – sadly that wasn’t to be… so I was very interested to read your blog Gary.

    From what you describe and indeed your superb suggestions – I can’t for any reason think why the organisers shouldn’t pull you in for a long chat! If there is anything I can do to help – I’d be glad to offer a hand :)

    For me, the show and others like this, it is about heralding all that is good and made in Norfolk.

    I sincerely hope to make it along next year and if I do, to see your suggestions implemented.

    Nice one!

    Lisa

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