THE future of the event that has put Ludlow on the national and international map is at risk.

Ludlow Food Festival was founded in 1995 and has brought hundreds of thousands of visitors into Ludlow over that time

The Covid-19 pandemic that led to the cancelling of the event this year that should have started tomorrow (Friday, September 11) has put the future of the annual festival on the line.

With no opportunity to generate an income in 2020, the future of the festival is very much at stake.

“It is an extremely worrying time, and our focus is to secure a future for our events which will in turn allow us to continue to support the independent food and drink producers of our region,” said Phil Maile, chairman of the Food Festival.

Ludlow was the first food festival in the UK, and until Covid-19 hit the event along with the rest of the sector, it had continued running a successful not-for-profit organisation throughout the 25 years of operation.

In order to try to bring in much needed funds a virtual festival will take place this weekend with people having an opportunity to show their support by making donations.

There are a variety of levels within the 'Friends', which supporters can opt in to according to the amount they wish to donate.

At each donation level, there is a range of exclusive benefits as a gesture of the festival’s gratitude for support in preserving Ludlow Food Festival’s future.

“It is our hope that, with the launch of the Friends, you may consider standing beside us as we weather this storm,” said Hannah James, events manager.

There is a strong line-up for the virtual event – to be hosted at Redford Farm Barns, in south Shropshire, with content available via social media throughout the weekend.

The festival will be joined by regulars from the popular Fire Kitchen Stage: Shropshire Lad, Adam Purnell, recently announced as one of BBC Good Food’s Top 10 Game Changers; Marcus Bean Festival Director and a regular on the stages at the BBC Good Food show; Best Selling Author Genevieve Taylor and Andy Stubbs Low N’Slow who specialises in Texan inspired open fire cooking.

All will be cooking over live fire in Kadai Firebowls. There will also be some key local food and drink producers along to chat all things food and Ludlow with Marcus Bean.

While the virtual event is free to access online via social media (and later via blogs on the website), the festival hopes that people will make donations in lieu of the normal entrance ticket, or take the opportunity to show their support for the festival by joining the Friends of Ludlow Food Festival.

There is also a raffle to help raise funds – with prizes already including, dinner and an overnight stay for two at Tom Kerridge’s Hand and Flowers.

For full information and how to join, please visit: www.ludlowfoodfestival/friends