Crowds flock to Galway for foodie feast
CLOSE to 80,000 people enjoyed the sunshine in Galway over the weekend as they helped themselves to a feast the the city's annual food festival.
Top food from the chefs, bakers and artisan makers of the West was all on display at the fourth annual Galway Food Festival which saw crowd numbers exceed all expectations with some stalls selling out of produce on the opening day.
The stunning weather drew crowds from all over the country to the four day event which included cooking demos and talks on everything from the fifth and sixth food sense to how to make five meals out of one chicken.
In tribute to the weekend an Easter egg hunt took place for children while their parents got to enjoy an Easter egg and wine pairing talk.
Heather Flaherty, the Chief Executive of the Galway Food Festival said the crowds were well in excess of last year, with figures on Sunday placing them at 78,000.
"We are seeing huge numbers come out and support the festival, we're four years in and it's now clear that people are associating Easter with the Galway Food Festival. We saw well over 70,000 this year," she said.
Ms Flaherty said the large programme of free events was one of the biggest draws for people with all priced events selling out quickly.
Ms Flaherty said one of the trends which was very evident over the festival was people's interest in where they food is coming from.
"People are more discerning about their food now and this is the perfect showcase for some of the best producers in the country. They want to know who is making their food and how it was raised. We have people enjoying the weekend who are talking about the ham on their pizza came from," she added.
Ronan Byrne of the Friendly Farmer in Athenry which produces free range poultry to markets in Galway and over 20 restaurants in the West said the festival was "vitally important exposure".
"It's been phenomenal. We sold out all our stock that we brought for the weekend on the first day. Our sales are definitely up over two thirds on last year.
"People now expect this from Galway and this year has cemented the food festival on the map," he said.
Events that drew the crowds over the festival included a food tour to the Aran Islands, a talk on 50 shades of kale and One Night with a Hooker, which paired four Galway Hooker artisan beers with food.