I first came into the Festival in 2009, having been introduced by Trealy Farm and Caws Cenarth. Back then, Gower Cottage Brownies was a pretty small business and I didn’t have much knowledge of food events. Even so, I tried to make good choices as to where to exhibit.
There were many things to weigh up. It wasn’t just a question of the pitch fee, but also travel, accommodation and time out from production. I truly wondered if there’d be much trade, here in the middle of Wales with my little pitch in one of the outdoor street markets. How wrong I was. I sold out in a day.
The first thing I noticed was the great vibe, and that other exhibitors were of a really high calibre. Visitor engagement was amazing. So I came back again and saw repeat customers. Due to our alignment with the Festival, sales through our online shop increased massively.
Gradually, as the business developed year-on-year, so did my relationship with the Festival. I got a larger stand and therefore a bigger presence. I also got involved with the programme of demonstrations and talks over the weekend. My journey from newbie stall-holder to participant to major sponsor evolved quite naturally.
Gower Cottage Brownies has sponsored guest hospitality at the Festival for many years. It’s the one place where chefs, cooks, writers and campaigners all come together. A brilliant opportunity to get your product sampled and talked about. I’ve also sponsored the New and Small Producers’ Market, and alongside that a New Producer Bursary which gives one recipient a complimentary stall. But there’s more to it than just that. I also act as a mentor, advising on how to get exposure and customer engagement throughout the year.
The Abergavenny Food Festival and Gower Cottage Brownies have grown together. Of course sponsoring the event brings gravitas and brand recognition, but there’s always the potential for a deeper relationship that delivers more for both parties. I’m an upfront ambassador for the Festival and want to see more businesses coming on board. There are lots of ways to engage and get your message out there.