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Food festival expected to bring £400k boost to Llangollen

Thousands of food lovers will be beating a path to Llangollen this weekend to sample the culinary delights of the town’s annual food festival.

The Llangollen Food Festival will be held on Saturday and Sunday at the international pavilion which is where Wales meets the world at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod every summer.

The event, which will provide a shop window for more than 100 stallholders, has been named as one of the UK’s Top 10 food festivals by the Daily Telegraph and Independent newspapers.

It will also provide a major boost to the local economy which stands to benefit from a total spend of £400,000 by visitors.

Among those plying their trade there will be the Wrexham-based Booze Brothers who  will be launching a new cocktail in honour of two aristocratic women who scandalised 18th century society when they eloped together from Ireland and settled in Llangollen.

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The concoction called Ladies’ Dee-light will celebrate the lives of the Ladies of Llangollen, Lady Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby.

The new drink is the brainchild of two brothers,  trained mixologists Gruff and Ieuan Jones,  whose micro bar business is taking North Wales by storm.

The Llangollen Pavilion, less than a mile from the house, Plas Newydd, where Lady Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby lived.

They were regarded as eccentric characters and the exact nature of their close relationship remains a talking point to this day.

As well as working on their house and garden, the ladies spent their time in reading, studying foreign languages and corresponding with a wide variety of people.

Many of these were well-known figures of the day and they often came to visit the ladies.

Among them were the likes Wordsworth, the Duke of Wellington, Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott and Anne Lister who was inspired to go home and informally marry her own lover as a result.

Lister’s life was recently immortalised in the hit television series starring Suranne Jones in the title role.

The series was based on Lister’s collected diaries which contain over four million words and are written largely in secret code, documenting a lifetime of lesbian relationships.

Also being launched new wine to honour the memory of the man who saved the popular festival – and will be used to raise money for his favourite charity.

Friends and colleagues were devastated by the sudden death of the “larger than life” former wine distributor, Colin Loughlin, 76  after he suffered a heart attack at his home on the outskirts of the town in February.

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The red wine, appropriately called Chateau Loughlin, will be unveiled at this year’s festival and the label features a colourful caricature of Colin.

The proceeds will be used to help fund a defibrillator on a new boat, the Lady Winifred, that’s recently been launched by the Vale of Llangollen Canal Boat Trust which Colin supported for many years.

Back in 2011, Colin came to rescue of the Llangollen Food Festival and led a team of volunteers who took it over when the previous organiser pulled the plug on the event.

Festival committee member Pip Gale, who also runs Gales Wine Bar in Llangollen, sourced the Chateau Loughlin wine.

Pip said: “He is much missed still, and it was one of the biggest honours to be asked by him personally to join the committee for the food festival, and this does feel like a way to pay back all of the work that he put into that festival, and all of the work he did for me.

“Chateau Loughlin is a lovely, easy drinking wine from the South of France, made with predominantly with Syrah grapes.  I’m sure Colin would approve

A trout farm and smokehouse whose delicacies once tickled the taste buds of James Bond has lined up a legendary new treat for visitors the  festival.

Chirk Trout Farm Shop and Smokery, which has supplied smoked trout to the Orient Express among other prestigious establishments, will be unveiling its luxurious new smoked pancetta.

It will be the latest in a growing list of delicacies to have won the hearts of food lovers near and far – including iconic silver screen star Sir Roger Moore.

The late Bond actor, who became an international star after playing the secret agent a record-breaking seven times, once described Chirk Farm’s smoked trout as “the best he’d ever tasted” while tucking into lunch at a local restaurant.

“It’s great to be returning to one of the loveliest food events in the country with a new product,” said former veterinary nurse Rachael Simpson, 40, who joined the firm run by the Simpson family after marrying her husband Richard, 44, who manages the smokery and trout farm.

Festival committee member Phil Davies said: “We have a wonderful array of fantastic food producers clustered in the area for whom we can provide a shop window.

“I’m glad to say we’re also making a positive contribution the local economy with food lovers travelling from far and wide because the festival is now firmly and rightly established as a major highlight in the UK’s culinary calendar.”

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