REVIEW: Best of British Spring Fayre @ Wynyard Hall
Posted on May 23rd 2017 by Whats on Northeast
Words and photos: Laura Brown
To celebrate the arrival of spring, light nights, blossoming trees and warmer weather (for a day or two), the wonderful Wynyard Hall once again hosted their ‘Best of British’ Spring Fayre on the 20th and 21st May.
The annual weekend event returned with claims to be the biggest and best yet, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The bustling gardens and Grand Marquee were filled with artisan produce, fashion, gifts and homeware stalls inspired by our Great British heritage. Despite the inevitable downpour, it didn’t deter a flurry of punters from attending on the Saturday morning. I suppose the rain was a good homage to Britain and our ever-surprising weather!
For the most part, you could escape the rain by wandering around the many stalls and exhibitions within the Grand Marquee. The Marquee is a huge construction within the beautiful gardens of Wynyard Hall that housed over 50 independent and artisan suppliers. From the traditional to the quirky and cool, Wynyard Hall had sourced an amazing array of stall holders including The Northumberland Sausage Company, Edinburgh Gin, Flavour Magic, TCL at Home, Andersons of Durham, The Brothers Brewing Co. and Pippa Teas.
Big names for a big event! There was genuinely something for everyone amongst the crowds, including stalls dedicated to gluten free, dairy free and vegetarians. There was even a wonderful little company that produced homemade pet treats using animal friendly ingredients. From popcorn to birthday cake, your pet can have it all with No Bones!
It was most definitely a foodie’s dream, but on a strict holiday diet and in super saving mode, it took absolutely all of my will power not to prance out of the Marquee looking like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Except instead of a new designer wardrobe, I’d have bags filled to the brim with pastries, jams and handmade sausages. I did sneak in a taster at every possible opportunity though…
My standout stalls on this occasion were Flavour Magic and Black’s Cheese. I was also head over heels with the Bloom’s Gin and Rose Lemonade number from Wynyard Garden Farm Shop’s very own stall. It was the perfect summer drink; sweet, refreshing and full of gin. What could be better? Flavour Magic brought the taste of the world to Wynyard. Specialising in rock salts, seasoning and spices inspired by Japan, Morocco, Thailand, India and everywhere in between. The versatile produce can be added very simply to marinate meats and flavour dishes, introducing you to a whole new culture. I settled for the Moroccan Harissa seasoning and the Truffle and Porcini Mushroom Rock Salt – which I’m told makes a cracking risotto!
If my friends ever lose me at a food-orientated fayre or festival, they’ll head to the cheese stall. I love every kind of cheese, but I’ve never seen such a variation or as many unique adaptations. The most unusual yet weirdly addictive number was the Sticky Toffee Cheese. With real chunks of toffee embedded in an extra mature cheddar block, I didn’t know what to expect. Odd, yet satisfying, it tasted like sticky toffee pudding cheesecake. They also had flavours such as Caramelised Onion and Rioja, Irish Whisky and Stem Ginger, Charcoal, Jalapeno and Lime and, my favourite, the Little Winker Ale and Mustard (aka the best cheese on toast you will ever taste).
Aside from the food, the homeware stalls and fashion suppliers were all entirely unique and clearly very high quality. Most of them stocked handmade and one of a kind items that you can only find such things at events like this.
But what I enjoy most about artisan events and fayres is the passion and knowledge of the independents who attend. They can answer any question regarding their products or services and are more than happy to, even though it’s probably the 94th time they’ve answered it that day. It’s the main reason I whole-heartedly attend and support events like this – you don’t get that kind of passion on the high street!
If you’re not a foodie, but you do have a family, the fayre would have still been right up your street! Weaved in-between the stalls were children’s characters and magicians entertaining families and groups as you tootled around. The laughter was infectious and the entertainers drew crowds of all ages. From face painting, sunflower planting, bouncy castles and fairground rides, there was endless fun for children. There was an adorable petting zoo from Animals About Town that allowed children to hold and sit with rabbits, guinea pigs and more. The baby goats, lambs and gosling were a perfect way to accompany the new season.
At the bottom of the Marquee was a ‘demo’ area which had a large seating area, a screen and a stage. With different entertainment, guest speakers and demonstrations every 30 minutes, you could have stayed put all day! From singers belting out Frozen songs to the team from Wynyard Hall Spa exhibiting their treatments, it was an impressive mix.
If the clouds did break, if only for a moment or two, there was even more to explore outside the Grand Marquee, and you were free to explore the vast and beautiful gardens or dine in the café. It really was an event you could enjoy for a whole day, no matter your interests or circumstances. There was something for everyone.
The Wynyard Hall and Gardens team should be commended, as it might just be one of the best local events I’ve visited recently, despite the weather! Although I do hope to return next year and be adorned with sunshine… Fingers crossed!
Find more of Laura’s writing over at Proper Scrumptious and find out what’s coming up at Wynyard Hall on their website. See more of Laura’s images from the day below.