Reviews of previous Hairst Festivals

In 2007, the inaugural year of the Hairst Festival, the celebrity host for the occasion was Nell Nelson, well known for her programme 'The Woman Who Ate Scotland. And in 2008 it was the turn of Joanna Blytheman, award-winning food writer. Both wrote glowing reports of their visits, extracts of which can be read below.

Nell Nelson, 2007

I had a wonderful time at the Huntly Hairst. I was very impressed by the range and quality of the local produce and tried to do as much justice to it as I could! The communal Sunday lunch was a lovely welcoming community meal which truly reflected the passion and commitment of the local people to the excellent food they can produce on their doorstep. The procession was a magnificent evocative sight - and not to missed - and its worth enjoying some excellent hot street food to give you the energy to join in an eightsome reel at the end of the night in the town square - altogether a great weekend in the north east.

Nell Nelson - presenter of 'The Woman Who Ate Scotland'

 Joanna Blythman, 2008

Holy satisfying

"I was in Huntly recently for its Hairst (harvest festival) weekend which celebrates local culture, traditions and food. Everyone knows this part of the Highlands is famous for its beef and its distilleries, but Huntly is building up a foodie profile that's sharper still, turning itself into a food lover's destination, Scotland's equivalent of Ludlow in Shropshire and Abergavenny in Wales. Slow food suppers in a local village hall, a food tour round the town's producers on bicycles, suppers in the town hall where you can compare and contrast the virtues of different tattie soups, competitions for the best stovies at the town's cattle market ... Huntly got there first.

And you can see why if you visit the town's farmers' market, a persuasive showcase for the staggeringly high-quality produce this area has to offer. Soft, sweet ham; dry cured bacon and pancetta from rare-breed pigs; smoked roe deer; venison carpaccio; rich, golden Jersey milk cream that tastes like cream ought to; chutneys that leap out the jar proclaiming their herbiness; buffalo meat; crisp, hand-rolled oatcakes baked on the spot; heritage potato varieties like Sefton Wonder and Edzell Blue grown organically; free-range duck; award-winning haggis; all powerful evidence of how rich and viable a local diet in Scotland can be."

Review published on 24/11/2008 © Sunday Herald

Return of the rabbit?

"I had a very illuminating encounter with a dead rabbit recently up at Hairst, a sparky little harvest festival that's held annually in the pretty market town of Huntly, in rural Aberdeenshire."

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