Lennoxlove Book Festival takes place each November at Lennoxlove House in East Lothian. It began in 2009, attracting 3000 people over two days of events.
In 2010, conscious of the synergy between audiences who enjoy books and those who enjoy good food and drink, the popularity of food writing, and the quality of food and drink producers in East Lothian, the organisers applied to Event Scotland for funding to develop the festival in support of the Scotland Land of Food and Drink initiative.
This was one of the contributing factors which led to the Festival being expanded to a three day event attracting nearly 5,000 people.
Using local produce
Working with Heritage Portfolio, appointed caterer for Lennoxlove House, the organisers were able to identify, offer and promote more local produce and suppliers within the menu offered in the festival’s Café Bar. Use of these suppliers was promoted through display signs and the menu cards available in the cafe itself.
Heritage Portfolio also used local produce and suppliers in their offering to the authors who were staying and dining at Lennoxlove House as part of the festival. This was an ideal opportunity to showcase local Scottish food and drink to this influential group of VIPs who included Peter Snow, Simon King, James Naughtie, Alastair Campbell, Sarah Dunant, Nicholas Parsons, Tom Conti and Ian Rankin.
A selection of Scottish whiskies and other local beverages was also available in the authors’ Green Room, and all the authors were provided with a goody bag which included delicacies from local suppliers including chocolates, smoked trout and organic apple juice.
Working in partnership
A partnership was developed with Haddington’s famous monthly Farmers’ Market, leading to a selection of nine outdoor stalls from the market being brought to Lennoxlove for the duration of the festival.
Working with the organiser of the Market and the stallholders, the team was able to open a special dedicated marquee, (‘the Market Marquee’), highlighting East Lothian producers and supported by East Lothian Council.
This brand new Marquee gave festival-goers an opportunity to taste and purchase local foods from stalls including organic chocolates, smoked salmon and trout, dry cured bacon and sausages, speciality ciders and fruit juices, and also provided an alternative outlet to the Festival Café Bar.
As well as introducing new food outlets, the festival programme was developed to include a food and drink element, with three popular ‘Scotland Land of Food and Drink’ branded events involving food and drink writers: the food critic and writer Josceline Dimbleby, food writer and proprietor of Valvona & Crolla, Mary Contini, and a whisky tasking event with writer Ian Buxton and Cadenheads whisky shop.
To raise advance profile of the food and drink theme, Scotland Land of Food & Drink branding was incorporated into the Festival’s branding, media and marketing campaign, including the festival programme, website, advertising, press releases, leaflets, and posters.
A special leaflet was also produced highlighting the food and drink events alongside the Food & Drink Campaign. These were distributed prior to the Book Festival at Haddington’s Farmers’ Market and local food outlets across East Lothian, as well as at the Book Festival itself.
A successful festival, and new markets discovered
Rebecca Salt of the Festival’s organising team says:
“There’s absolutely no doubt that by developing partnerships with local food and drink suppliers and expanding our culinary offering, we were able to bring a new dimension to the Festival which tapped into the natural synergy between audiences who love books and high quality, locally-produced food and drink”.
“As well as a substantial increase in our overall numbers, customer satisfaction levels were up on the previous year and, pleasingly, the number of people travelling to the event from outside East Lothian rose by 20 per cent, with many of those reporting that they had come to the area specifically for the Festival. This was due in no small part to the added attraction brought to the Festival by the focus on food and drink”.
“Whilst 53 per cent of those surveyed said they thought the food and drink on offer was of a high or very high quality, the feedback we received will allow us to make further improvements to the food and drink offer at next year’s Festival and to build it into an even more integral part of the overall programme”.
Louise Elder of Stevensons Mains Farm, whose Black & Gold Rapeseed Oil was available for sampling and purchase in the Market Marquee, says:
"For Black & Gold, Lennoxlove was an ideal opportunity to showcase my product. Firstly, I found that even before the event I was able to draw attention to my product by telling food author, Mary Contini, that I had just launched this new East Lothian oil and inviting her to meet me at my stall.
"She visited me, tasted the oil and enthused about it in her talk. As a result she hopes to stock the product in Valvona & Crolla in Spring 2011”.
“In addition, Heritage Portfolio sourced many of the ingredients for the Cafe Bar from the Farmers' Market stall holders. They used the rapeseed oil in their centrepiece Iced Carrot Cake, which was a sell out, and also promoted Black & Gold in their menu.
"The great thing for me about attending the Festival was that I could promote my product to local festival goers but also tempt visitors and retailers from further afield to sample Black & Gold, and convert them to use or sell it in the future."
Pauline Jaffrey, Co-ordinator of Haddington’s Farmer’s Market adds:
“Haddington Farmers' Market was delighted to be invited to be part of Lennoxlove Book Festival and we found that by working together and supporting the event, we not only helped raise the profile of the market but the county as a whole.
"The Festival not only provided an ideal platform to showcase East Lothian’s quality food producers, but enabled us to reach new audiences, some of whom were visiting East Lothian for the first time.”