Harvest festivals with the best accessibility

September 2017

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Harvest is a traditional time of year to enjoy nature’s abundance and revel in the bounty of the summer. Though this may have changed from when crops were harvested by hand, it is still a part of Britain’s psyche.However, as these events are often outside, it can mean they are not particularly accessible, especially for people who rely on a home stair lift. So with this in mind which festivals are the friendliest for those with limited mobility?

Great Cornish Food Festival- 22nd – 24th September- Truro

The largest event dedicated to Cornish food and produce is about to take place. Guest chefs and countless demonstrations will all be on display in late September as locals and visitors alike join in celebrating the produce from this county. Based at Truro’s Lemon Quay, the Great Cornish Food Festival is great fun for all the family, and accessible too. Claire Vickers from the festival says:

“The Great Cornish Food Festival is completely accessible, as it is located on the flat area of Lemon Quay in the centre of Truro.”

Ruth Huxley, Director of Cornwall Food & Drink, who has been at the helm of this event for nine of its fourteen years, explains why she thinks so many people have taken the Great Cornish Food Festival to their hearts: “We really do go the extra mile every year to create not only an exceptional mix of really good quality producers, chefs and food experts and a well-balanced programme of culinary entertainment, but we also put a lot of effort into creating the right buzz about the place and this is something visitors comment on every year – they just love it.

“People plan their holidays to Cornwall around it and as soon as this year’s festival is over will be putting the dates for next year in their diaries.”

Harvest at the Botanics- 23rd September – Edinburgh

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh was established in 1670 and is renowned for its horticultural excellence. There are beautiful Victorian glasshouses set into the gardens, but though they may be a pleasure to walk around, there is serious work under the façade of gentility. The festival allows visitors to see and taste produce from the Edible Gardening Project among other fun activities. Sandra Donnolly from the event was quick to talk about the accessibility of the event and what else is on offer:

“The free, accessible-to-all event, organised by RBGE’s Edible Gardening Project, will have experts on hand to give advice about growing and harvesting fruit and vegetables, there will be a show of produce grown in the Botanics’ edible garden and by community garden projects throughout Edinburgh and the Lothians. Visitors will get the chance to vote for the best produce box on the day.”

“There will be wheat threshing demonstrations and food samples from the garden as well as storytelling, crafts and live music including the ever popular Barrow Band. Community Engagement Manager, Judy Paul explained: “The event is open to everyone. There is access for wheelchairs and assistance dogs are always welcome at the Garden.’’

Harvest Festival Newbold- 30th September – Near Inverness

This Scottish festival is building on the success of last year’s festival and adding even more activities. Many festivals focus on food and drink, and though there is an element of that at Newbold, there are also lots of other talks and events. You can join birdwatching, games, storytelling and an interactive quiz, or you can get creative. The festival showcases some age-old arts and crafts such as wool spinning and basket weaving. Allan Scott Gray spoke to us about what the Newbold Trust has done to make the festival accessible:

“We are based in a Victorian Manor House which has provided certain limitations in terms of making our venue accessible but we have made some small steps towards this.

“The Harvest Festival does not use the Second or Third Floor of our property so the events indoor spaces will all be accessible with the use of accessibility ramps. We also have an accessibility bathroom.

“The outdoor space is a little bit more difficult. We are situated on 8 acres of land but the majority of the paths are across grass and paths. The majority of performances, activities and talks will happen indoors whereas the food stalls, crafts stalls and produce for sale will be in an outdoor marquee situated on our front lawn.”

Stone food and drink festival – 6th- 8th October – Staffordshire

This festival has been going for over a decade and in that time it has distinguished itself as one of the best-known food celebrations in the Midlands autumn calendar. Situated in the historic town of Stone, much has been done to ensure this event is accessible. Charlotte Eglington from the event spoke to Companion:

“We endeavour to make the event accessible and enjoyable for all and assistance dogs are welcome. Most of the site is flat and wheelchair accessible, however during very busy times (generally Saturday and Sunday afternoons are peak times) the Gourmet shopping marquee can get very packed, so Friday might be the optimum day to visit.

“In terms of parking, there is the park & ride service from Aston Marina which drops off by the festival gate; otherwise there is a town Pay & Display parking a short walk from the site (usually there is disabled parking immediately adjacent to the park where the festival is held but, due to development work on a new supermarket, this will be unavailable this year).”

The festival even has a review from a former visitor with limited mobility, which can be found here, so those planning to go to the event should have no undue surprises.

Falmouth Oyster Festival- 12th-15th October – Falmouth

Most harvest festivals celebrate the end of the hard work, however, Falmouth Oyster Festival chooses to mark the beginning of the dredging season that runs until March. It was believed that oysters were only safe to be consumed in months that contain the letter r, and in keeping with this myth, Falmouth Oyster Festival is well timed. Samantha Groom from The Falmouth Oyster Festival spoke to us about the event’s accessibility:

“Falmouth Oyster Festival is held in a large marquee on Events Square, the majority of which is level paved ground, easily accessible from Grove Place Car Park and other car parks in the town. The festival is an open space with stalls around the outside and tables and chairs placed centrally to watch the cookery demonstrations and eat the food and drink on offer.

“There are wide entrance/exits and wide aisles down either side of the marquee which allows good access to the festival, however, it should be noted that it does get very busy at peak times which can make manoeuvring difficult for everyone.”

Space is allocated for wheelchair users at the front and near the stage ensuring nobody misses out on cooking demonstrations. Temporarily disabled toilets are provided on site in Events Square and Grove Place, along with an emergency call system.

Brogdale Apple Festival- 14th-15th October – Faversham

A British autumn is not complete without a hearty bushel of apples and this Kent based event is all about apples. Brogdale is the home of the National Fruit Collection and with over 4,000 varieties of fruit trees, it is fair to say they are the experts. While the Apple festival has over 2,000 different varieties of apples on display, it also has cooking demonstrations, live local music, festival games and crafts. Sian from the festival informed us all about the accessibility of the event:

“We have disabled facilities, visitors can enjoy a tractor-trailer tour of the orchards which accommodates a wheelchair and seating for 15 -30 people on the day plus many of the activities of the festival day are accessible and useable for those with extra mobility requirements.”

“Explore the fascinating apple display and discover some of the oldest, rarest and most unusual apple varieties in the world! Taste something new with ‘try before you buy’ rare & heritage apple varieties, then fill a bag with your favourites to take home.”

“Enjoy guided walking & tractor trailer tours of the fruit-filled orchards, horticultural talks, demonstrations, tasty cooking demonstrations and meet the experts to have your apples identified available all weekend. Plus live music, local artisan food, local craft & produce and festival fun for the little ones with apple crafts and much more.”

Dartmouth Food Festival – 20th – 22nd October – Dartmouth

Around 70% of vendors at this festival are from Devon so it really has a local feeling. The plethora of events available is astounding and ensures fun for every age group. Children’s tea parties take care of the little ones, while those looking to test their knowledge will feel right at home at the food festival quiz. There are workshops in crab cracking, pizza making as well as creating chocolate truffles, allowing everyone to get involved. Thankfully this brilliant event is also really accessible and Lynsey from Dartmouth Food Festival was pleased to explain:

“In terms of mobility – we are really accessible as the Embankment, Royal Avenue Gardens and The Market Square are all flat so wheelchairs etc. can rest assured. Our demonstration tents have wide entrances for easy access. The Council run a park and ride service to the Festival as well so again making things easier we hope for our less abled guests. We also have disabled parking throughout the town.”

This news article is from Companion Stairlifts. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Harvest festivals with the best accessibility
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