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Market Drayton’s Ginger and Spice Festival: All You Need to Know

Estate - 21.09.18

It’s the start of a new season: the leaves are changing, and the days are certainly becoming crisper. September also means that the Ginger and Spice Festival is around the corner in the nearby town of Market Drayton! We’re offering £50 off cottage stays during the festival which celebrates everything ginger – all you have to do is quote ‘Ginger and Spice’ to our wonderful sales team.

For a relaxing stay at Combermere Abbey why not book one of our beautiful cottages

The history of Market Drayton spans far back to the 10th century when it was initially called Drayton – the resident monks of Combermere Abbey wanted to put the town on the map as a trading station. In medieval society, the right to hold a market signified great social standing and wealth. In 1245, Henry III granted Combermere Abbey a charter to hold a weekly market on Wednesdays, as well as an annual September festival – from here it’s probable that Drayton received the epithet ‘Market’ in order to assert dominance over neighbouring towns.

 

We caught up with Ginger and Spice Festival Director Julia Roberts to find out what the celebrations are all about and what we can expect to see…and eat!

 

How long has Ginger & Spice Fest been running and what was the inspiration behind it?

The Ginger and Spice Festival was established in 2017 and is now in its 2nd year. The festival is an annual celebration which takes place during British Food Fortnight, championing the unique culinary heritage and historical links to spices, food, drink and gingerbread associated with the town of Market Drayton. It also acts as a platform to promote local food producers, the weekly markets, suppliers, other community groups plus places of historical interest & significance in and around the rural market town.

 

What can we expect to see at the festival?

The fun packed four day festival includes over 20 festival fringe events such as live music, pop up restaurants, cookery master classes, chef demos and talks plus an abundance of speciality food and drink with plenty of produce featuring a ginger twist! Saturday 29th September features the Spice Exchange Street Market, where, in the centre of town visitors can journey into an exotic and fascinating world of spice, secret recipes, ancient gingerbread guilds and delicious hot & spicy street food. There is also a family trail called the Leek United Heritage Spice Trail dedicated to exploring the town’s culinary history, including tastings in shops, cafes, the brewery, the Church, the Museum, Festival Drayton, the covered market and more. The festival’s grand finale event this year is a live musical performance from lead singer and songwriter of Deacon Blue, Ricky Ross, performing with support local singer, songwriter, Heidi Browne at the Festival Drayton Centre.

What’s the story behind Market Drayton being the home of gingerbread?

Gingerbread has been baked for over 200 hundred years in the town of Market Drayton! The first recorded mention is a ‘Roland Lateward’, maltster, who built a bakery at the back of his cottage in Shropshire Street and who was baking gingerbread in 1793. In 1817 another bakery began producing and selling gingerbread in the corner of High Street and Church Street, which then became known as Billington’s Gingerbread.

Today, the only surviving brand still being made in the town is Billington’s Gingerbread. Rich, buttery and also famed for its ‘dunking delights’, historically the farmers’ wives and people of Market Drayton, enjoyed Billington’s celebrated gingerbread by dunking it into a glass of Port on market day.

Billington’s Gingerbread has recently given a great taste award and has also been shortlisted in the Great British Food Awards You can buy it all over the town and you can also visit the original bakery where it was first made, which is now called the Fields Kitchen.

 

What treat are you most looking forward to during the festival?

We are running a ‘best of’ baking contest during this year’s festival sponsored by Market Drayton Country Markets, to find the best bakers, jam makes and gingerbread decorators in the area! This is a great change for locals to get involved and showcase their baking prowess! Val Stones from the Great British Bake Off 2016 will be helping to judge the gingerbread baking class! There will be prizes too.

 

For all information about the festival including the events, please visit the what’s on section of the website: www.gingerandspicefest.co.uk or pick up a festival guide which are located throughout the town.

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