The one-day festival marked the success of the world famous Comber spuds, which achieved EU ‘Protected Geographical Indication’ status in January last year and are the only variety of potato entitled to the name ‘New Season Comber Potatoes’ or ‘Comber Earlies’.
Organised by Ards Borough Council in partnership with Food NI/Taste of Ulster and Comber Early Growers, the event provided the perfect opportunity to sample the Comber Earlies at their very best, as well as featuring a host of other culinary delights from local food producers including cheeses, chocolates, pies and desserts.
Top chefs Danny Millar, Niall McKenna and Paula McIntyre demonstrated how best to cook Comber Earlies and make the most of the unique flavours, while children got to use the potatoes in creative workshops.
Speaking after the event, Mayor of Ards Councillor Stephen McIlveen, said: “The Comber Potato Festival was a huge success, with over 3,000 local people and visitors alike enjoying a fun day out. The focus of the day was on quality local produce and the Council was delighted to support local producers by organising this event to showcase that.
“From talking to a large number of those who attended, there was a huge amount of positivity about the event. Those who attended were treated to a variety of food-stalls, some of them inevitably potato themed, inspirational cookery demonstrations and some great entertainment from local musicians. The kids had the opportunity to get their hands dirty with some potato based arts and crafts.
“Comber Earlies are a true local treasure. Their harvest is eagerly anticipated by retailers, professional chefs and home cooks alike, and their protected EU status not only highlights the unique climate and geographic position around Strangford Lough, but also the expertise and dedication of the farmers who grow them. It is fitting that the Council took this opportunity to celebrate and pay tribute to this renowned product.
“I would like to give particular thanks to the staff at Ards Borough Council, Good Food NI and all those involved in the organisation and running of the festival without whom this Comber Potato Festival would not have become a reality or the success that it so clearly was.”
Local companies Slice of Heaven and Glastry Ice Cream, also displayed and sold their produce at the festival as part of an on-going initiative by Findgoodlocalfood.com, part of the SEED (South East Economic Development) Forum set up by the six council areas of Ards, Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon, Down, Newry& Mourne along with Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland, which works to promote food collectively as a tourism product.
Other entertainment on the day included a vintage tractor display, live music, the World Police and Fire Games Roadshow, The Ark Open Farm and a treasure hunt.
Local businesses also joined in the celebrations with Comber Early themed shop window displays.