Heavy snow before and during the Essex Game and Country Fair on 23/24 March meant that it was a quiet and subdued affair, with many exhibitors and visitors choosing not to battle through the elements to get to Cressing Temple Barns near Braintree. And to be honest I don’t blame them – it was freezing! Even the sheep, which were supposed to be in a race, looked cold and like they wanted to go home. The dog agility was more a case of find the obstacle than who could get the best time, and for the brave producers and exhibitors who did turn up, it was cold even indoors, and there was little passing foot traffic to help take their minds off the weather.
We came away with some great produce – more about that in another post – but I also couldn’t help but feel for the producers who had turned out. I can’t imagine that many of them covered their costs, or even nearly did. The bread stall in particular, must have lost a fortune in unsold goods and the loaf we bought was almost frozen, even after the journey home. I really wondered whether they’d have been better off just cancelling the event altogether, but without knowing the details of the arrangements that the organisers had in place, I’m not going to pass judgement on that decision.
It’s easy just to blame the weather, but for me it underlined the importance of making an effort. It’s been a tough winter for all of us, but in particular for small producers. It can be so easy to make plans and then when the time comes find a reason not to go – we are definitely guilty of this!
We’ve been to quite a few events over the past year or so, and many have had a real buzz about them. There’s a lot of support for local producers which is great to see. It’s just also important to remember the smaller events and markets – people are out most weekends working hard to make the businesses they are passionate about work. I envy the passion (although not sure I envy them being out in all weathers!). Anyway, the experience last weekend moved me to write about it, and also to remember to make the effort, even if the weather’s rubbish and popping to the supermarket would be easier.