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Celebrating the launch of the 15th Annual Waterford Food Festival, are Dungarvan locals Ethna Sheehan; Hugo Cass, aged 5; Maura Curran; John David Power; Mary Flynn and Frances Cass, aged 7.

This year's program, set for April 19-21 in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, features 85 food and family fun-themed events.

For tickets and more information see www.waterfordfestivaloffood.com and follow on social media for all the latest updates.

Photo: Joleen Cronin
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Connecting People and Food: Waterford Festival of Food 2024 Announces Programme

Tickets to the Waterford Festival of Food 2024 go on sale next Tuesday March 12th

Waterford Festival of Food 2024, one of Ireland’s largest and longest running community food festivals, have launched their programme for this year’s events. Inspired by the theme of ‘Connecting People with Food’, more than 80 events are set to take place from 19th to 21st April 2024.

The main hub for the 3-day festival is in the scenic harbour town of Dungarvan Co. Waterford with events also taking place in nearby Lismore, Villierstown, Kilmeaden, Cappoquin and Ardmore making it a unique showcase of the flavours and characters local to this food region.

Highlights from the diverse range of events on this year’s programme include guided taste tours, kitchen table talks with influential people from Ireland’s food scene and beyond, high profile guest chef dining events, sustainability workshops, and pop-up experiences in unusual locations.  There will also be foraging trails, food waste talks, bus tours to farms and mountains, live cooking demos, and the festival’s famous market, which is Ireland’s largest outdoor market, in the town’s Market Square on the final day.

At the launch, Eunice Power, Festival Director said, “Waterford has a long tradition of innovative food production, great cafes, and restaurants. This festival acknowledges the important role that food plays in all our lives, from farmers, producers, chefs, restaurateurs and of course customers. Our festival is unique in that it has deep rooted connections in the community which I believe is the secret of its success.  I hope you join us for another incredible weekend from the 19th to the 21st of April.”

New events to take note of this year include:

All weekend

Behind the Bite Exhibition, Tom Currans store on the Quay  

A visually stunning exhibition of black and white portraits of 40 local food trailblazers, captured by photographer Joleen Cronin was unveiled at the programme launch event. This exhibition titled ‘Behind the Bite: a Portrait Series of our Local Food Heroes’ captures the spirit of the diverse culinary community in Dungarvan and Waterford —from bakers to brewers and everyone in between. Each portrait offers a glimpse into the lives of those who craft, create, and enrich local food and will be showcased at an Exhibition over the festival weekend.

Friday 19th April

Mountain Splendour Taste Tour, Comeragh Mountains

Embark on the Taste Waterford backed ‘Mountain Splendour Taste Tour’ in the stunning Comeragh Mountains with local tour guide Johnny Lander, where you’ll meet food producers, hear their stories, and enjoy gorgeous scenery in the process. Learn about shepherding, visit a sustainable farm, and take part in a forest forage before enjoying lunch at Cooney’s Yard, a converted farm building. 

Celebrating Trailblazers Lunch (hosted by Georgina Campbell)

In this unique, lunchtime event, Waterford Festival of Food honours four local female entrepreneurs who have spearheaded the local food and hospitality industry in Dungarvan since the 1970s, namely Eileen Harty, Gertie Ormonde, Esther Barron, and Laurann Fitzgerald, hosted by renowned food writer Georgina Campbell.

Jerry Fish and the Electric Sideshow, Shandon Carpark

One of the headline events, expected to attract a large crowd,  will be a pairing of music and food. Jerry Fish, known for his eclectic and genre-bending style, will bring not only his musical prowess but also his showmanship to the opening night of Waterford Festival of Food. Supported by local band Under Starling, those lucky enough to attend can also enjoy food served by local restaurants Interlude, X35, Indian Ocean, 360 Cookhouse and The 2 Sisters, along with a bar by Merry’s.  [No single use plastics at this event]

Saturday 20th April 

Flahavans Sponsored “Fit for Breakfast”event with Karl Henry, 360 Cookhouse

Start your Saturday off well with a 45-minute workout session led by Karl Henry, one of Ireland’s foremost personal trainers followed by a nutritious breakfast inspired by Flahavans at 360 Cookhouse. With over 200 years of experience in milling oats in Kilmacthomas, Flahavans is renowned for providing wholesome and heartwarming breakfast options. It’s a perfect way to kickstart the morning with both fitness and nourishment in mind.

Rowley Leigh guest chefs at The Tannery

Iconic British Chef Rowley Leigh will guest chef for the very first time at The Tannery. One of Paul Flynn’s food heroes for many years, Chef Leigh has been described as one of the founding fathers of modern British cooking. He is also a highly respected cookery writer and award-winning influential author. The menu will feature Rowley’s famous signature dishes while the Tannery and guests in turn will show him some good old-fashioned Dungarvan hospitality. 

Taste Waterford ‘Walk, Talk and Taste Tour of Dungarvan’

On this guided walking tour, you will hear of times when the Neolithic hunter gatherer settled around the harbour bay all the way up to the modern-day rejuvenated town, now full of food venues. Heritage stories from local dairy food production and fishing at its quayside from tour guide Stíofán Mac Cárthaigh known as the walking seanchaí, will take you around its winding streets to entertain you with stories while incorporating three luxurious food stops.

Kitchen Table Talks with well-known faces from the Irish food scene, Tom Currans Store on Davitts Quay

This year’s festival has a mission of ensuring that local people who grow, produce, cook, and sell food have a central presence. The Kitchen Table (Talks) promises familiar faces and lively conversation around the Kitchen Table, featuring Darina Allen, Sally Barnes, Fintan O’ Toole, Paul Flynn, Michael Sheehan, Moe Dunford and Ryland Teifi.  

Storytelling Evening with Craicly Stories, Salterbridge House

CRAICLY is a unique, storytelling group that pops up in lovely, unusual venues all over Ireland. Storytelling, and the sharing of true stories and experiences, will bring people together for some craic in the beautiful surrounds of the drawing room in Salterbridge House. After enjoying a light supper and wine, guests will hear from food producers, growers, and farmers who will share honest accounts of their experiences. 

Conor Spacey’s Root to Tip Dinner, Dungarvan Courthouse

Join renowned chef Conor Spacey for a root to tip dinner using all local seasonal ingredients from Waterford to showcase how every part of every vegetable can be used. Spacey is an accomplished chef, author of ‘Wasted’ a collection of root-to-tip recipes, he is Ireland’s leading advocate on food waste and co-creator of Chefs manifesto, a global network of chefs committed to finding better solutions to the global food system. Conor is a vegetarian and cooks vegetarian food, using vegetable butchery to harness flavour from every part of every vegetable.  

Sunday 21st April

Taste Waterford Deno Stage presented by Richard Povey

A collective of food and drink producers along with guests will chat about all thing’s food for a series of talks and demonstrations curated and presented by Richard Povey.  Speakers throughout the day will include Fergal Walsh – Dún Artisan Bakery, Niamh Condon – Dining with Dignity, Cáitlín Uí Aodha and Ciaran Martin from IASC Seafood Bistro, Tom Dauber – Dungarvan Brewing Company, Shane Smith an award-winning pastry chef, Marie Power – The Sea Gardener a passionate coastal forager and cook.

This festival once again focuses on accessibility, with a mobile sensory unit for people on the autism spectrum will once again be provided at the festival by ASD. And a Lámh signed cookery demonstration with Chef Aisling Larkin will be a fun event for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and communication needs and their families, with a song or two from Nollaig Hennessy added in! The programme itself is very diverse, with events for all ages and interests and a significant number of free family fun events also included. The festival will also offer designated car parking in the middle of Dungarvan for people with mobility issues and accessible toilet facilities.

Waterford Festival of Food is funded by Waterford City and County Council, Waterford Leader Partnership, Failte Ireland, Waterford LEO, and would not be possible without the support of Taste Waterford, OPW, sponsors, friends circle and the community. 

Check out the full programme on waterfordfestivaloffood.com. Most require advance booking and sell out quickly. Tickets are available to buy on the website from Tuesday 12th March at 2pm.

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