As the first weekend of October approaches, it’s not just the locals who anticipate The Stone Food and Drink Festival every year. After going virtual in 2020, with no live events taking place at all, it was a pleasure to volunteer at this year’s 2021 festival. Volunteering opportunities have been sparse over the last 18 months and many small businesses have taken a huge hit, meaning many events need all the help they can get, so I’m here to talk about my experience and how to get involved as an event volunteer yourself!
Stone Food and Drink Festival is located at Westbridge park in Stone and has been running since 2004. It’s a not-for-profit community event that supports local businesses, giving them a platform to showcase what they do and providing a fun filled event celebrating all things food and drink. The festival has a wide range of options to suit anyone, from local craft beers and liqueurs to street food and desserts in the Gourmet Marquee (which can all be enjoyed alongside volunteering!).
I represented Staffordshire University as an event marshal and as a third-year events management student. I spent the majority of the day networking with local businesses in and around Stone or helping out at the Demonstration Kitchen and the Talks and Tastings tent. This included encouraging guests to join the live events in each tent, handing out samples and being a friendly face for attendees to approach and ask general questions to.
The vendors and organisers were grateful to have a helping hand on the day and it was a lot of fun being able to watch demonstrations from business owners and to gain an insight to what an event looks like behind the scenes.
Small Business Spotlight
- Joules –Joules Brewery are the main sponsor for the festival, who have recently opened a new venue called The Crown Wharf which opened in July 2021 and is located on Crown Street in Stone. The taphouse has become extremely popular with locals due to the friendly staff, lively atmosphere and of course, great beer! The new project also aims to bring a community theatre to the establishment calledThe Crown Wharf Theatre as there is currently no purpose-built event space in Stone where local arts and community groups can join to enhance their creativity and passions. They are looking for volunteers here.
- Ten Green Bottles – Ten Green Bottles is a gin and craft beer bar who currently have two venues in Newcastle-Under-Lyme and Stone. The business attended the festival to talk the latest drink trends alongside Stafford Distillery, sharing their knowledge of quality cocktails and recommending the best ingredients. As well as handing out samples of their cocktail containing lychee gin infused with passionfruit liqueur and tonic (yum!), they also had a pop-up bar and a stall to purchase their products from. To check out all things cocktail, visit their websites linked.
Community events such as this one are so rewarding to volunteer at, as well as being a lot of fun to be a part of, particularly for students interested in areas such as events management like myself. At the event I gained valuable experience to put into practice at future events I either volunteer at or host myself and am looking forward to the next project! If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer for next year or just want to attend yourself as a guest, visit Stone Food and Drink Festival’s website
If you’re a student at Staffordshire University looking for volunteer opportunities ask your tutors and try the Careers service
Get in touch with Grace through her linkedin profile