HAMPSHIRE Food Festival (HFF) has won a gold award for being named Tourism Event of the Year at the recent Tourism South East Beautiful South Awards for Excellence.

The festival, which takes place over a month each summer, is organised by Hampshire Fare. It began as a weekend event in Winchester with the core focus of promoting local produce, and over the years has developed into a countywide celebration.

In 2014, HFF included 76 different events hosted by 65 businesses and organisations involving farms, producers, pubs, restaurants, cafés, hotels, town centres, and community groups.

The events programme included brewery, farm and vineyard tours, markets, tastings and workshops.

Tracy Nash, commercial manager from Hampshire Fare, and Mike Wright, its chairman, received the award at a special presentation event.

Tracy commented: “We were genuinely surprised to win the Gold Award for Excellence as we felt that the other entries in this category were so strong, but we were also delighted to receive this accolade as recognition of the value of the Hampshire Food Festival to the county’s cultural life and to the local and rural economy.

“I know the Hampshire Food Festival is of huge importance to the county’s food and drink community, and we would like to thank the efforts of all those Hampshire Fare members and, indeed, many non-members, who contribute to the event.”

Mike Wright added: “The HFF goes from strength to strength. Next year will be our 15th anniversary and we promise it will be even more spectacular and special than ever.”