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Monday, 25 January 2016

Creating Food Week: The Statistics

Since being launched in 2010, Milford on Sea Food Week has grown in so many ways.

The initial concept was born out of wanting to boost local village trade by promoting Milford on Sea as a 'Foodie Heaven', - and with 20 great places to eat, what better way for Milford on Sea to celebrate than to have an entire week dedicated to the joys of food!

Very soon this concept grew to involve the local community en-mass in organising and participating in events, promoting the quality local producers that surround us, and adding celebrity shows to enhance the enjoyment and to raise the profile of Food Week.

This year the ever popular Milford on Sea Food Week returns from Bank Holiday Monday 28th March until Sunday 3rd April 2016, and this time it is bigger than ever, with over 10,000 people attending the 150 events (many of which are free). Actually, it is 168 events to be precise!

Food Week Purpose: 
The core purpose of Food Week is to boost and promote village trade, and to inform, educate and entertain the local community and visitors.

Creating the Food Week Events
It is important to us that as many corners of the entire community are directly involved as possible.

To create so many events, there are as you might expect, a lot of people across the village that get involved, whether as a business, local organisation, club or as an individual. A quick count tells us that to create all the Food Week events means that 129 people are organising or participating in one way or another.

We also have 80 local producers who attend the Food Market as stallholders.

Behind the scenes there is a Core Organising Team of 7 volunteers who make sure everything is in place, prepare the events, create the marketing, raise the income, manage the finances, and keep an eye on things throughout the week.

Finally, there are also 43 important and enthusiastic volunteers who work on the event preparation, and provide day to day services and specialist support. Plus, an awesome team of 44 people who do a great job selling Food Week raffle tickets.

So, that's 303 people to make Food Week happen!

Funding Food Week Events
Food Week is run on a shoestring, and we are fortunate that many skills that organisers of other events have to pay for, we are able to do for free thanks to the expertise and time investment of our volunteers.

However, one main element that has to be outsourced is the printing of the publicity collateral, and it is surprising how substantially the cost of publicity material mounts up. Things like local advertising, village banners, window posters, flags, signage, and 20,000 Free Food Week Programmes for the village and 25,000 Flyers for the surrounding areas do not come cheap!

The celebrity events are always a risk, as good ticket sales are essential to ensure that we do not make a loss on any show.

Food Week could not happen without donations, and we are fortunate to get excellent support from Brand New Forest at NFDC, local councillors, our local MP, 6 local main sponsors, 67 local businesses as gold or silver sponsors, and 41 local residents as Friends of Food Week. Food Week 2016 has so far raised £15,425 from these generous supporters.

Food Week is not a charitable or fund raising event, however we do encourage local charities to take part in order to raise funds for their own good causes.

Should Food Week make any profits, donations are made to local good causes and also spent on projects that may benefit the village overall. Since 2010 Food Week has made contributions of £20,738.

Spreading the Food Week Message
Prior to the fun of Milford on Sea Food Week, there is the little matter of making sure that as many people as possible know that the events are taking place.

As previously mentioned, we do as much as we can without costs and through volunteers, such as; the website, all design and artwork, PR, marketing, social media, e-shots, blogs etc.

Spreading the Food Week message is a multi-level marketing activity, and we regularly use the following:
  • The MoS News Bulletin. This is sent directly to 2,626 email addresses in the village. (NB: Milford on Sea has around 5000 residents in total.)  -  Perhaps surprisingly, we have a further 201 people who we know live in Milford on Sea, but have chosen to 'Unsubscribe' from receiving the News Bulletin. (This might be something to do with some of the nonsense we publish!)
  • The Food Week News Bulletin: This is sent directly to another of our databases, which contains 1,543 email addresses of 'Foodies from outside of the village'. 
  • Facebook: Milford On Sea Page: We have 1,109 Page Likes.
  • Facebook: Milford On Sea Food Week Page: Only recently started, and we have 172 Page Likes to date. (Currently growing by around 80 per week.)
  • Facebook: Post Boosts: Used tactically to spread the word about Food Week and specific events.
  • Twitter: 86 Followers. No idea what Twitter is all about really, we just randomly put stuff on it and hope that someone sees it!
  • Streetlife: This is a local social network, so we are also giving this a go.
  • Press Advertising & Editorial in Advertiser & Times, New Forest Post, Village Voice, Lymington Directory, Barton Bugle, Highcliffe Eye, Christchurch Eye, Hampshire Life and a few selected other local publications and magazines.
  • Press Releases: Articles are sent to local press and food/lifestyle magazine publications.
  • Free Food Week Programmes: 20,000 free copies distributed within Milford on Sea village. (3000 of which are generously delivered to every home in the village by the team that distribute the Community Centre What's On Magazine.) 
  • Food Week Flyers: 25,000 delivered door to door in nearby surrounding areas from Christchurch, and across the New Forest to Lyndhurst.
Then of course, we have the messages that everyone sees, like the village banners, window posters, flags and signage.

Milford on Sea Food Week is very proud that it is a not for profit community event entirely coordinated by a small dedicated group of volunteers who provide their expertise and time for free.

The Food Week organisers are more than satisfied that their sole reward is in seeing the enjoyment gained by people enjoying the events. 

Food Week is truly a ‘By the community, for the community’ event, so please come and join in or simply enjoy!

Milford on Sea Food Week
Bank Holiday Monday 28th March until Sunday 3rd April 2016

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