Clickimin Centre Packed for Food and Craft Fairs

by Alastair Hamilton -

Over a weekend in mid-November, thousands made their way to the Food Fair and Craft Fair, both much larger than in previous years.

Craft and food events have been held for several years but, for 2014, they were both hugely expanded. The Christmas Craft Fair boasted 88 craft stands, occupying both the main hall and the bowls hall at Lerwick's Clickimin Centre. The Food Fair used the large function room for a food theatre, a food court and several stalls, but many more exhibitors were accommodated in the squash courts and even the corridors.

The crafts on show included a huge variety of textiles, ranging from traditional knitwear through weaving and felt-work to innovative designs in a wide range of fabrics. Jewellery and accessories were very well represented too, with some particularly beautiful work using silver, gold, glass and ceramics; there was a great choice of scarves and bags, too. That was by no means all: there was a wealth of pottery, leatherwork, sheepskin crafts, candles and furniture. Local artists and photographers showed some beautiful work.

Food producers were also more numerous than ever before; succulent mussels were very much in evidence and there was a great choice of Shetland lamb and beef. Local cheese – a relatively recent arrival on the Shetland food scene – was clearly going down well. One stand featured a new range of locally-made German baking, including classic stollen and some beautiful cakes; nearby, the new Shetland deli range was also popular. The islands" two breweries and the new distillery, presently producing gin, were also represented.

For the first time for several years, the Food Fair included a food theatre where, throughout the weekend, local chefs brought their passion for Shetland food to packed audiences; there were delicious samples, too. The Shetland Food Champion Awards also caught visitors" imagination. The overall winner – from more than 60 nominees – was Scoop Wholefoods, a shop packed with cooks" delights from organic native Shetland lamb to sushi-rolling mats. You can read more about the event, with more pictures and details of the awards, on this blog.

Shetland's craft and food producers are more numerous, and offer a wider range, than ever before. A number of them have set up successful businesses following a move to the islands. The Shetland public has responded, understanding the benefits of buying local and realising that the quality of what's on offer is superb.