With just a week until the annual Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival, I thought as its the tenth year of the festival, I’d go back over the history of the event, as well as giving you some information on what you can expect from it this year.
The very first Chocolate Festival was on Sunday April 5th 2009, the number one single in the UK charts at the time was Lady Gaga, giving away no hints with her Poker Face, if you can cast your mind back that far (here’s a link to the original programme). The brainchild of Paul Morris who having recently opened The Chocolate Cafe wanted to promote the café and the town.
The festival first started life as a handful of stalls featuring traders such as Slattery’s, Meantime Chocolate Beer and Ramsbottoms regular Park Farm. There were also activities such a Giant Easter Egg Competition, World Record attempt at Most Ferrero Rocher Eaten in 1 Minute and even Chocolat being screened by Real2Reel Cinema.
From these beginnings the festival has grown year on year, Paul Morris has now sold the chocolate café and neither he nor the cafe have any involvement in organising the festival.
I spoke to Terri Fletcher of Ramsbottom Markets to get the lowdown. Terri and her husband began helping with the festival as volunteers back in 2010 having opened a shop of Bridge Street (Purple Tiger).
In 2016 the festival received a record number of visitors so in 2017 the footprint of the festival was extended to use more of the town centre.
This was in part to encourage people to wander around the Town enjoying all of the independent shops and bars along their way. It was also to make the chocolate festival easier to move around.
This year the festival is using as much of the town centre as possible, we have an indoor food and craft market inside the Civic Hall, there is the fun truck and hot food at Market Place and as always, Bridge Street has the traditional market stalls with everything chocolatey that Ramsbottom Markets could possibly think of. From your standard bars and eggs to chocolate cakes, brownies, cheese, wine, spirits, bath products, you name it, they’ll have it (within reason).
As well, there will be stalls selling hot food at St Paul’s Church Gardens, there will be children’s rides on the site of the former police station as well as a donut and waffle truck using Slattery chocolate.
On the car parks to the rear of Bridge Street there will be hot Street food, children’s rides, a Prosecco and Gin van truck, Lancashire hawks and owls and visitors like the dogs trust.
There is usually an Easter Egg hunt; but this year a donation was made to Rammy Rocks. They are having a stall at the Saturday car park site where you can go and decorate your own rock to hide, in addition they have decorated some special Rammy Rocks.. if you find a prize rock you can exchange it for an Easter egg 🥚.
As well as that, on Saturday Tower FM will also be broadcasting from the event chatting to traders and visitors and giving away some goodies. Bury fair trade will also be at the event and they have chocolate to sample and be giving helpful information about buying fair trade.
To get in and out there is the park and ride running from Woodhey High School where there will be two coaches running in and out of the festival both days.
Thanks very much to John Leyland of the Ramsbottom Heritage Society for the photos.
If you want to check out what events are coming up in and around Ramsbottom take a look at the events page, here are some upcoming events from that list:
Check out the full events calendar for most upcoming Ramsbottom events, but here are some other great sources too:
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