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Provenance Festival set to showcase the best of north-east food and drink

By David Porter

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Organic dairy Forest Farm are amongst participants in the event
Organic dairy Forest Farm are amongst participants in the event

A flagship festival has been launched to give visitors the opportunity to discover how food and drink is produced at source and celebrate the north-east Scotland’s outstanding reputation for high quality, signature products.

Led by Opportunity North East, Provenance Festival 2021 will give visitors a unique opportunity to build their understanding of the provenance of food and drink from the fields and seas of the north-east to enjoying it on their fork and glass.

Events will take place at locations across the region over ten days from September 24 to October 3 and will include well-loved and new experiences that celebrate regionality, provenance and authenticity.

Passionate business owners from leading north east producers will tell the story of their products and brands though engaging, hands-on, memorable visitor experiences that cover how cheese is made, the role of wind turbines in making ice cream, how Deeside birch sap makes the perfect gin, how a coo turns straw into the highest quality beef and much, much more.

Among the first of more than 20 business to sign up to share their story are award winning organic dairy Forest Farm, leading brewers six°north, artisan cheesemaker Cambus O'May Cheese Company, Castleton Farm – one of Scotland’s largest fruit farms - and Aberdeenshire Highland Beef– a multi award winning Highland cattle fold, meat producer and visitor attraction.

Businesses that will launch new visitor experiences exclusively for Provenance Festival 2021 include Balmoral Game, Esker Spirits and Mackie’s of Scotland.

Balmoral Game will launch a new experience to visitors to see the UK’s largest wild native land mammal, the red deer at their game farm in Kinnelar, with visits to meet and feed the herd.

Armed with a greater understanding of the health benefits of venison, with a field to fork experience, visitors can then experience fresh produce at the fireside bothy in the partner farm shop.

Ian Booth, Balmoral Game said “Offering a visitor experience that strengthens our relationship with the customer and gives them greater insight into our products is something we have been keen to do and now feels like the ideal time as things open up again.

“Provenance Festival 2021 is a great launch pad for us to do this. It gives us access to specialist support to tailor, develop and market the right experience and the added benefit of being part of something bigger along with many of the region’s leading food and drink brands – it’s a no brainer.”

Cambus O'May Cheese Company understand the value of creating a meaningful relationship between consumer and producer and how visitor experiences can do this, having offered exclusive tours of their working dairy in Royal Deeside since 2015.

Building on their popular Cheese Factory Tour, which covers the cheesemaking and ageing process followed by tasting in the Milk Hoose Cafe, throughout Provenance Festival they will run cheesemaking courses where guests spend a day in the cheese room making one of their award winning cheeses.

Alex Reid, Cambus O'May Cheese Company said: “Enjoying food and drink experiences at home was vital for many over the last 18 months with keen interest from consumers to source and experience what is available on their doorstep. A festival that brings individuals, families and businesses together to learn about and celebrate the region’s unrivalled produce could not come at a better time.

“We know from our existing visitor experience that there’s a strong appetite to support local business and more sustainable supply chains and we are delighted to take an active role in the first Provenance Festival.

"We can’t wait to welcome people back to the dairy, share our story with a hands-on learning experience and celebrate the best of what the north east of Scotland has to offer.”

Provenance Festival 2021 will offer something for all tastes and appetites; some of the other events

confirmed for 2021 include:

A VIP behind the scenes sky to scoop tasting tour of the farm at Mackie's of Scotland, with the option of a self-guided walking tour of the wind turbines and solar panels that help make Mackie’s ice cream with over 60 per cent renewable energy.

Esker Spirits will open the doors to their distillery for the first time with exclusive tour and tasting events – providing a behind the scenes glimpse to the distillation process that isn't normally possible.

Aberdeenshire Highland Beef is adding an educational walking trail to their existing highly popular Highland cattle farm tour.

Chris Foy, chief executive, VisitAberdeenshire said: “Pre-pandemic, it was estimated that visitors spent almost £1 billion a year on food and drink when they holidayed in Scotland.

"The national ambition to double that value by 2030 will be bolstered by events like the Provenance Festival as it grows beyond this year’s pilot to become an annual celebration of the quality, provenance and sustainability of food and drink production in the region, with a complementary fringe of learning experiences and gourmet hospitality events attracting visitors nationally and internationally.”

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