Hiring Fair, Ballymoney.
Hiring Fair, Ballymoney.

Ballymoney could once again become alive to the sound of the market if plans for a Food Festival get the thumbs up!

The proposal by Ballymoney Chamber of Commerce is to hold the event from Saturday, October 11th to Saturday, October 25th boosting trade and attracting hundreds of visitors into the local area.

In an email to local businesses, including the Ballymoney and Moyle Times, Joanne McLaughlin from Ballymoney Borough Council explained: ‘As per the July edition of Town Talk, Ballymoney Chamber of Commerce have proposed a Food Festival for the town. At this stage, we would like to gauge interest and participation from the town’s shops, to see if the event is a runner.

‘These dates overlap with relevant key 2014 dates as follows: 10th Anniversary of Molly’s Restaurant in Main St, 24th October, Pyrex National Baking Week: 13 - 19 October, National Chocolate Week: 13 – 19 October and World Food Day: 16 October.’

So far ideas for the Festival have included local businesses boasting themed window displays and staff lunch dates, special menus and taster events in local eateries, late night openings as well as an advertising campaign to attract shoppers.

Joanne continued: ‘Some ideas already gathered for the Festival include:

‘Embrace all things foodie: As an extension of last year’s very successful Toon Taster event, cafes, bars and restaurants may wish to offer special menus during this period, late night openings on selected dates, wine tasting evenings, sampling days and drinks promotions. In turn the Chamber of Commerce will co-ordinate an advertising campaign to attract residents and visitors into the town during these dates.

*Arrange a Staff Lunch: Offices including solicitors, banks, dentists, accountants, architects, etc would maybe see this as an opportunity to arrange a staff lunch to sample the best of what Ballymoney has to offer.

* ‘Food Glorious Food’ Themed Windows: Why not use the opportunity to dress your shop windows using “Food Glorious Food” as your inspiration!’

Calling on business feedback Joanne added: ‘We would be grateful if you would let us know how you envisage your business participating in this Food Festival, so that the Chamber can decide if there is sufficient interest to warrant an advertising campaign. Please let me know either way, thanks!

‘I look forward to hearing from you, either way, even if it’s just to say you won’t be able to participate this time around, or that you hope to arrange a staff lunch during this period.’

* In the 19th century Ballymoney was one of the most prosperous market towns in Ulster and on market days the town was packed with people. Produce was sold from stalls that lined the streets and also from the ground floor of the old Town Hall (now the Masonic hall) which originally opened out onto the street.

Every Thursday, the general market sold a wide variety of goods e.g. grain, oatmeal, fish, potatoes, turf, pig carcasses, butter, crockery and earthenware. The cattle market was held on the first and third Thursday of the month, and the grain market was held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.