Over the last couple of days, CAT played host to the Taste of Summer fair, celebrating Welsh art, craft and food. Visitors enjoyed browsing a range of stalls, selling everything from beautifully printed bags made off organic textiles, to delicious cheeses, jams, and fudge. There was also the opportunity to have a go using a potter’s wheel or to blend a smoothie with bike-generated power.
Musicians were on hand to serenade the fair goers with traditional Uillean pipe and fiddle tunes, as well as Venezuelan guitar music. Clement weather graced CAT on both festival days, and visitors sat about on lawns, benches, and picnic tables among the lush gardens to nibble snacks and enjoy the air.
Children with brightly-painted faces scampered among the fair goers, lightening up the atmosphere with their fantastical colors.
Another pop of color came from Aberystwyth artist Jude Riley’s marbled paper display, which showed the whole process of creating her marbled jewelry, journals, and art from blank paper to finished product.
Knottyburr Woodcrafts displayed a wall of handcrafted wooden clocks and candlesticks, some painted with fanciful designs. Here, a visitor peruses a table full of skeins and balls of natural Welsh sheep wool, possibly considering that the end of the summer is the perfect time to start thinking about knitting warm scarves and jumpers for the coming winter.
A high point of the fair was the Free Market, a special booth powered by donations where visitors could swap things they no longer wanted for something new, or could simply peruse the goods and take something home for free. Katie, who ran the booth, said that she got the idea for a free market in Edinburgh, where she would set up free booths on big shopping days using the overflow from charity shops. She said that people’s reaction to a free market are varied; some want to pay for the goods they take, whereas others get rather excited about the prospect of free stuff. A free market, Katie says, really makes people think about the difference between what they want and what they need, and most visitors end up actually taking fewer items than if they had been asked to pay. At the free market, there is less a sense of giving yourself an expensive “treat” and more a sense of finding the things you really need. The best part is that everything at the booth was easily supplied through donations; goods ranged from faucets to lampshades to wool jumpers to books to classic movies on VHS.
Another highlight of the fair was the throw-your-own-pottery station, which drew a large crowd of onlookers every time a new visitor sat down to try to make a bowl out of wet, sticky clay on the spinning wheel. Luckily, an experienced potter was on site to lend a helping hand.
At the Penypound jam booth, visitors sampled sweet treats such as cranberry and elderflower jam, mango chutney, rosemary jelly, damson port syrup, and lemon lime marmalade. Penypound is a Welsh food festival regular, and prides itself on selling seasonal, local goods.
Flowers, veg, and herbs from the CAT grounds made for a lush, aromatic display.
The Co-op tables at the fair sponsored the popular cycle-powered smoothie, in addition to selling tasty welshcakes.
The Preseli Coffee company served up fair-trade coffee from Tanzania that has been roasted and ground right here in Wales. They were excited to demonstrate the traditional methods of tamping the ground coffee and making a steamed-milk latte.
The Taste of Summer fair was a great success, for all the vendors and all the happy visitors. A steady stream of people enjoyed the soft light and bustling atmosphere in the lovely WISE building.
Fair goers became involved in discussions and dialogues about the diverse presentations ranging from food security to knitting to diet choices to climate change.
Thank you to all who made it out to CAT for a Taste of Summer this year, and we hope to see you next year!