Chow Down organisers defend decision to introduce admission fee for Halifax food festival

Chow Down at The Piece Hall
Chow Down at The Piece Hall

The owners of the independent food market Chow Down have defended their decision to introduce a £3 admission for entry to the event, which takes place at The Piece Hall this weekend.

After welcoming over 120,000 people last year - when the event was free to attend - Chow Down, a monthly summer market of independent food, ales, cocktails, crafts and music. returns for three weekends, which are 24-27 May, 26-28 July and 23-26 August.

The Piece Hall building will be open as usual and free of charge to visitors who want to enjoy the shops, cafes, tourist information and heritage spaces.

Chow Down’s entry fee will be charged within an enclosed festival area in The Piece Hall grounds. For those who choose to attend Chow Down, the £3 entry fee will gain you entry for the entire weekend with a stamp allowing you to leave and re-enter throughout the weekend once you have paid. Under 14’s go free.

In a statement, Chow Down said: "As an open, transparent business, we wanted to address any comments and hopefully clarify any of the points raised.

"Last year’s Chow Down was very well attended, however, post-event it was clear that in order to bring this event to Halifax again in a sustainable fashion, it was only going to be commercially viable to charge a small entry free for 2019. We introduced a £3 entry fee for the first time in Lincoln this year, which proved successful and helped us make Chow Down the very best it could be.

"Chow Down is entirely independent from The Piece Hall and is run by a passionate group of Yorkshire-based street food enthusiasts, who love nothing more than giving a platform to local and further-afield independent businesses - whilst bringing great food to as many people as possible in Halifax, Lincoln and beyond.

"In order to do this successfully for another year in Halifax, an entry fee is something we had to implement, to make sure Chow Down could continue and provide a great day out in the Calderdale region and continue to build on and benefit the region’s incredible independent economy. Bringing some of the best, multi award-winning street food traders to Halifax for the very first time.

"Under 14s can still go free, so that it is more affordable for families and we will also be permitting free entry on the Friday until 5.30pm, so you can still join us at lunchtime or straight after work - free of charge.

"To build on last year, we have increased our street food and drink offering, bringing in yet more incredible food from some of the very best in the region and beyond, with prices from £2.50 to a higher price bracket to make sure we’re catering for all budgets and tastes.

"Plus, we have also increased the size of the children’s activities area and also introduced roaming performers and storytelling to keep all the family entertained - we will also be bringing a live band to the event for the very first time this summer to ensure that we provide a great day out in Halifax this bank holiday.

"Hopefully this addresses any questions and we look forward to seeing many of you this weekend."

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of The Piece Hall Trust: “We’re looking forward to welcoming Chow Down back to The Piece Hall for a second year. Last year 120,000 visitors enjoyed the very first Chow Down which was an original mix of local independent food and drink producers.

The organisers have told us how this year promises to be even better with the addition of live music and kids’ entertainment that will make for a wonderful day out for all ages, against what is officially the most Instagrammable backdrop in Yorkshire!”

Some of the weekend's attractions will include extra food and drink, such as - Super Whippy Ice-Cream Van, Laynes Espresso Coffee, Schofferhofer - The orange van, Prosecco Van, Gin bar, Chow Down Cider, Chow Down Lager, Chow Down Session IPA, Beavertown Oil and a Craft Bar - Rotating lines from Magic Rock, Northern Monk, North Brewing Co, Brooklyn, Oskar Blues Fugli.

The musical attractions will include - David Dunne (Funkademia), Ad Hoc Records, Dan Burridge (Vice City, The Hifi Club), Soul Boutique, Ed V3ctor, Chandé, Brudenell Groove and New York Brass Band.

The non-musical attractions will include - Pop Up and Play, a Kids Zone, storytelling, John Pearson Illustration, and artist Bobbi Abbey.

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