Published: 12:00, 09 July 2020
A new weekly street food market is launching in Kent this month - attracting the support of thousands of potential punters.
The first City Feast will kick off in Canterbury city centre on the last weekend of July, promising “exciting culinary offerings and expertly crafted drinks” in a socially-distanced setting.
Although the coronavirus pandemic has seen a huge number of events cancelled, bosses say they feel the time is right for the hotly-anticipated venture.
“It offers a safe experience for people to get out of the house,” said George Bartlett, one of City Feast’s four organisers.
“For people that don’t feel comfortable sitting in restaurants and eating out, this offers a slightly less worrying, outdoor option.”
Mr Bartlett and his colleagues first dreamt up the idea about three years ago, but their plans were put on hold as they struggled to find the right site.
But after working with the city council and Canterbury Business Improvement District, they have now secured permission to run the event in Guildhall Street - an “ideal” pedestrianised road right off the high street.
“We saw how popular street food markets are in London, and thought it’s time Canterbury had its own,” said Mr Bartlett, 26.
“It’s got the young demographic that engages in this stuff well. A lot of people our age will go to street food markets instead of restaurants.
“It’s a much more social thing - it means people can go with friends and each get the different food they want, instead of all going to a pizza place, for example.”
The event was originally due to launch over Easter weekend, and organisers had been hoping to screen Wimbledon and major football games in Guildhall Street during the summer.
But following the pandemic, plans for the market have been revised, and Mr Bartlett says he is confident it will still go ahead safely. Stringent social distancing measures will be in place, including a one-way system, sanitising stations, and a limited capacity of 10 stalls.
“There are government guidelines for food vendors, and they’ll be expected to adhere to those,” said Mr Bartlett. “Anyone that doesn’t, we won’t trade with.”
While the exact vendors are yet to be announced, Mr Bartlett describes them as “classic Canterbury street food legends - the best of Kent and a select few from London”.
He added that all traders will be required to provide 100% ‘green’ packaging, and that the council will be providing extra bins to accommodate waste.
“Our plans are to provide more entertainment there,” he said. “But for now it’s very much a pass-through market, rather than somewhere for gathering.”
The plans have so far proven popular, with more than 10,000 people registering interest in attending on City Feast’s Facebook page.
The first market is being held from July 31 to August 2. It will then run on every weekend throughout August and may continue, weather permitting.
“We’re holding them weekly for now, and we’re seeing how long we can hold out until the weather turns,” said Mr Bartlett.
It will take place from midday to 9.30pm on Friday and Saturday, and midday to 6.30pm on Sunday. Entry is free.
For more information, visit City Feast’s Facebook page.