Festival fans will get a taste of Islands’ produce

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This year’s milestone Hebridean Celtic Festival will not just be a delight for the ear drums, it will also be a treat for the taste buds.

The award-winning festival, which is marking its 20th year, is hosting Blasad dhen Fhèis - Taste the Festival - to promote and raise awareness of the rich array of produce available locally that is grown and harvested from sea and shore.

Blasad dhen Fhèis is supported as part of Year of Food and Drink Scotland 2015, delivered by VisitScotland.

HebCelt organisers are appealing to local producers, suppliers and outlets to sign up to feature in a Food Trail that will showcase local food and drink champions the length and breadth of the Hebrides, from the Butt of Lewis to the island of Barra.

The information generated will also be profiled on the official HebCelt website, with information on each of the participants in the Food Trail, further highlighting the area’s rich resources to the festival’s virtual audience.

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: “HebCelt is a fantastic event that is well known for its promotion of traditional music and the Gaelic language. As 2015 is the Year of Food and Drink this is a great opportunity to showcase the delicious local produce from across the Hebrides and also provide opportunities for local businesses and producers.

“The Hebrides are beautiful islands, rich in heritage and full of culture, with something for all visitors to see and experience. I have always loved going there and am going on holiday to Lewis with my family this summer and I would encourage those attending HebCelt to take the opportunity to explore the rest of these wonderful islands.”

Caroline Maclennan, the HebCelt director, added: “HebCelt is passionate about reaching out to and supporting all aspects of our Hebridean community. We are proud of the vast array of quality food and drink products in this area and we want to celebrate this during the festival and raise awareness amongst our diverse audience, half of which comes from outside the islands.

“HebCelt is the area’s foremost music event and therefore it’s also important that music forms part of the delivery of this project. It is anticipated that this new project also offers a unique opportunity to showcase emerging local musicians.”

The project recently secured funding as part of the Year of Food and Drink, an initiative delivered by VisitScotland, and is also supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and a range of community groups.

Joanna Peteranna from HIE said: “We are delighted to support Blasad dhen Fhèis as part of the Year of Food and Drink, which celebrates Scotland’s natural larder. This particular event will showcase the excellent array of produce we have available in the Outer Hebrides.

“We look forward to celebrating and promoting our quality food and drink with local people as well as with the vast number of visitors who will come to our islands during the time of the festival.”

Taste the Festival will also feature a series of pop-up cookery demonstrations during HebCelt, which runs from 15-18 July in Stornoway in the island of Lewis.

These food shows, aimed at highlighting the range and quality of local seasonally available produce, will be held in four locations; two rural, two urban, including a finale within the main festival arena. They will feature renowned local chefs including Alasdair Macleod and Maggie MacKenzie, both of whom have appeared on numerous Gaelic TV food shows.

The pop-up demos will be held at the Buth an Rubha & Cafe Roo, a newly-established community shop and café based in Knock in the Point district of Lewis; the Horshader Growing Project in Shawbost on the west-side of Lewis, which is now in its second year of full production; a farmers’ market run by the Lewis & Harris Horticultural Producers in Stornoway; and the festival arena in the grounds of Lews Castle in Stornoway.

Angela Macleod, development manager for Horshader Community Development, said: “We are delighted to be part of this important initiative. The main objectives of our Growing Project are Our main objectives are to promote healthy eating, cut carbon emissions by increasing consumption of locally grown fruit and veg, make better use of underused croft land and minimise environmental impact through tool sharing, recycling and rain water harvesting.

“Our partnership with HebCelt will allow us to access an audience of many thousands to spread the message.”In addition, HebCelt organisers will work with the range of local and visiting caterers at the event to further strengthen their links with local food producers and suppliers to source their produce locally wherever possible and also showcase the diverse variety of local food and drink.