A FOOD festival in East Lancs could grow to include a week of smaller events in towns and villages nearby.

Clitheroe Food Festival is due to return this August but Ribble Valley Council is looking at options to change it, including events over a number of days and different locations.

Councillors generally support the festival but factors like the cost to the authority, such as stalls and entertainment, not charging a fee, the use of council staff, the impact on town centre businesses and residents, travel arrangements and security bills have led to a review.

Others such as events organiser Dan Johnson, who arranges other fairs and markets, have lobbied for changes.

Nicola Hopkins, borough economic development director, says in a report; "The 2022 food festival was staged in July and around 100 businesses and organisations attended. In size, it was as large as the 2019 event with even more entertainment. It was agreed to hold the food festival again this year on the weekend of August 12.”

Options include a one-day festival, a two-day food event on Saturday and Sunday, or a food-themed event on the Saturday followed by something different on Sunday.

Other idea include moving the food festival to another site, perhaps privately-owned land outside Clitheroe or the Clitheroe Castle grounds. Longridge, Chipping or the Royal Lancashire Show grounds could be options, the report adds, under a new name, Ribble Valley Food Festival.

Another idea is to launch smaller ‘satellite events’ around the Ribble Valley the week before the main festival.

Ms Hopkins adds: “The purpose is to build on the success of the Clitheroe Food Festival and spread the benefits of food and drink promotion across Ribble Valley, by creating a week-long celebration called ‘Ribble Valley Taste Fest'. Events would be hosted at various locations, with each host controlling bookings. This would minimise the involvement of council administration.”

Suggestions include a cheese festival at Chipping, Ribble Valley farm visits, a brewery tour and beer-tasting, and gin and wine tasting events.

Outfits across the borough have expressed interest in hosting small events with around 25, 30 or 50 customers. The climax of the week would be the big, established Clitheroe Food Festival.

Events organiser Dan Johnson, of fairs firm Crafty Vintage, said in an e-mail to the council on the 2023 food festival: "It’s hopefully a simple action to see even more Ribble Valley-based businesses involved in all aspects of production and delivery, to enhance the offering, attract more people and increase visitor spending.

“Last year for example, Clitheroe Food Festival clashed with Whalley’s monthly artisan market. This had a seriously detrimental effect on footfall in Whalley on the Saturday with over 50 makers, creators and start-up businesses experiencing very poor sales.

“It feels unfair Clitheroe Food Festival placed signs all over the borough, used LED boards along the A59, while events in Whalley received zero support from Ribble Valley Council."