The Taste of Cavan 2017 has been officially opened by national treasure Neven Maguire. The Blacklion chef cut the ribbon at Cavan Equestrian Centre at 11.30am this morning to get the two day food fest underway.
The event has garnered praise from far and wide as a tool promoting the region as one of Ireland's pre-eminent food destinations. This year's Taste of Cavan headliners will include Neven along with other high profile chefs Richard Corrigan and David and Stephen Flynn of The Happy Pear.
Conor Harrington, Cavan County Council communications officer, says that the event is uniquely local.
“What makes the Taste of Cavan extra special is the effort our celebrity chefs make to incorporate local food into their demonstrations, so visiting stars like The Happy Pear and Catherine Fulvio will use local suppliers such as Manor Farm Chicken.
“Of course, our local chefs are well-known for their dedication to local produce, but even they might spring a few surprises; Eddie Attwell, for example, will be making an ice-cream using Ó Cléirigh Brewing Company’s extra-strong stout, which promises to be an interesting combination.”
The Taste of Cavan is hailed as an opportunity to celebrate food, while making a massive contribution to the local economy. This is in no small part thanks to the crowds it draws in for the fare.
“It’s always difficult to gauge what the attendance will be, but the buzz around Cavan and online has been very strong, so we’re confident that the attendance will be close to last year’s record figures. Last year, of our Irish visitors, 71% were from Cavan and 29% were from other Irish counties, with seven per cent of these coming from Northern Ireland. This shows a marked increase from 2015, when 83% of visitors were from Cavan.
“While Taste of Cavan is very much focused on the local side of food, it has really grown into an event of national significance, and our local producers always say that when they travel the food festival circuit, people always ask about Taste of Cavan,” Conor said.
As well as the high profile food professionals, the event also showcases the quality produce on which Cavan is building its food reputation. Producers like Morans, Cully's Bakery, Corleggy cheese, McCarren's Meats, Scott’s Irish Cider and Yomega all use the The Taste of Cavan platform to promote their produce.
There has been sterling work in the run up to this week's food fest.
“I think that’s testament to the hard work put in by all of the Cavan County Council staff that volunteer their time, the committee led by Chairman Alo Mohan, who’s been with Taste of Cavan from day one, and partner organisations like the IFA and ICA, without whom Taste of Cavan wouldn’t happen. There’s a real sense of a community pulling together at the event and that draws people back every year. The support of sponsors like Ulster Bank, Supervalu, and Fáilte Ireland is also vital in making the event so attractive to visitors near and far.”
Taste of Cavan 2017 will have a Home Chef competition, Fun Zone and a Smallholders’ Convention bringing together people interested in the smallholding life from all over Ireland and the UK, including experts who will share their experience with those interested in taking up smallholding.
“This year, Smallholders Ireland will also have an exhibition marquee in Arena 3, where speakers from Ireland and Wales will discuss the smallholding lifestyle. This will be a must-visit for anyone who’s ever thought about keeping bees, pigs or hens or growing their own fruit and vegetables,” the Communications Officer explained.
There are plenty of highlights for children with a free kids’ fun zone packed with activities. Cavan Library Service will have ‘Mad Professor’ teaching kids about science in a fun and accessible way, while Cavan County Museum will have an interactive GAA photo booth commemorating Cavan’s famous All-Ireland victory in the Polo Grounds in 1947.
There will also be climbing walls, an obstacle course, a messy wall, and penalty shoot-out and much more.
There is free parking at the event, and this year, Cavan Local Link will run a shuttle-bus to and from the Equestrian Centre from Cavan Bus Station, operating every 30 minutes and costing just €2 each way. Entry is €7 and children under 12 go free.