Bring out the bunting: it’s the start of the summer fair season and we are getting nearer to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. I’m an optimist so I’m hoping this rain will cease in time for the Kimpton May Festival and Harpenden Carnival. When the sun is shining, there really is no lovelier place to be than sitting on one of our lovely local greens, eating a slice of homemade cake and sipping some Pimms. Why would you want to be anywhere else?
The Kimpton Festival (4-7th May) is a local gem. One of the biggest and brightest village festivals in the country, this is the type of community event that people hope for when they move to a village. We have visited a few times over the years and we enjoy watching the maypole dancing, floats and viewing the art in the Church. But this is a food column and I have to tell you about the delicious homemade cakes sold on the green, and in recent years, by the play area. Classic Victoria sponges, chocolate cakes, fruit cakes and fairy cakes served with Pimms or tea on the green: I doubt you will find a more “English” scene anywhere in the country.
This year’s theme is The Best of British, celebrating the London Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, so the flags and bunting will be out! The barbecue outside The White Horse was very good last year too, and this year they are also holding a man vs British Burger competition. If the competitor manages to eat the burger, sides and drink in the alloted time, the burger is free and the winner gets a t-shirt too. The pub is also hosting a free Jubilee tea for Kimpton residents aged over 60 on 5th June, with live music and bubbly and is helping to organise a Diamond Jubilee Ball on 12th May at the Memorial Hall. Tiaras and tuxedos will be worn and a visit from the “Queen” is expected. Call Janet on 01438 832307 for tickets (£60 dinner, £25 non-dinner).
The Harpenden Carnival (Sunday 20th May) is another traditional family day out. Watch the procession pass through the town centre from 12, and then follow it into Rothamstead Park for 12.30. There will be a beer tent and food stalls in the main arena. There are some excellent cafes and restaurants near the main park entrance including That Little Place, which does a good Sunday lunch using local and seasonal ingredients, and The Gingerbread Cafe which is a past winner of The St Albans Food and Drink Award for most Family Friendly. I really like their home-made cakes and the children’s food is tasty and healthy. Every child is also given a mini gingerbread man to take away.
The Herts County Show, Showground, Redbourn (2nd-3rd June)
Head over to this very popular local event to see how the Woolatt family from Hedges Farm will do this year with their Hereford cows. You will also be able to enjoy the Food Hall and Farmer’s Bar, and meet lots of local farmers and producers. There will be bread from neighbours Redbournbury Mill, St Albans and T Roberts & Son from Hammonds End Farm, Harpenden. Hammonds End supply much of the organic grain to the Mill. Look out too for beer from the Safrron Brewery from Bishops Stortford and cold-pressed rape seed oil, grown in the Chilterns by PE Mead and Sons. The show themes this year will be the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics, so there will be plenty of Union Jacks and classic British food.
I am always being asked when the local farmer’s markets are on, so here is my annual reminder!
2nd Sunday of the month. The next one is 13th May, 8-2 in city centre.
3rd Sunday of the month. The next one is 20th May, 10-1 East Lane car park.
4th Sunday of the month. The next one is 27th May, 10-2 High Street.