Food Glorious Food at the MERL Village Fete!

Food Glorious Food at Uni Museum Fete

Visitors to the Museum of English Rural Life Village Fete on Saturday 31st May should get ready to have their tastebuds tempted.

The theme for this year’s family friendly Fete is food. On the menu are cookery demonstrations, food science experiments, food-inspired craft, stories, and trails, as well as delicious produce to taste.

bunny_guinnessBBC Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time panellist Bunny Guinness will open the event. Bunny, who lives a self-sufficient lifestyle and is keen to promote the idea of growing and producing your own food, will also be taking visitors’ questions in Q&A sessions. Bunny will also be helping to judge the new MERL Biscuit Bake-off competition.

Bunny Guinness says: “I am very much looking forward to returning to Reading where I have many happy memories. It’s fitting this year’s Fete is focusing on food. The University has a prestigious reputation for food and plant science which links directly into the town’s beer, bulbs and biscuit history. I am looking forward to chatting to fellow garden enthusiasts and food producers.”

The Village Fete is an event which sees the community and the University working together. Several local community groups and organisations, such as RISC and Two Rivers Press, have been involved in creating activities on the theme of food growing and production for the public to try out on the day. The Museum has also involved colleagues and students from across the University, so that visitors can also find out about fascinating research into a range of issues relating to food production, biodiversity and health.

Visitors can watch Reading, Steady, Cook!’ demonstrations – with Food Science students from the University who have been challenged by the Chinese Association, the Barbados and Friends Association, the West Indian Women’s Circle and the University Newcomers, to create new dishes from ingredients used by the diverse communities in Reading.  Colleagues from the Department of Food & Nutritional Sciences will be joining the students and members of the Reading University Baking Society (RUBS) to demonstrate the science of baking and cheese making.

Phillippa Heath, Public Programmes Manager says: “Of course you cannot have food without drink and we are delighted to welcome the Brewery History Society to this year’s event. We have also created our own village pub, The Merl-inn, which will be serving a number of local ales and ciders. Sherfield Village Brewery, who recently created the ‘Extra Curricular’ ale in collaboration with Reading University Real Ale Society, has brewed a special ale to be served alongside beers from other local breweries at the event. Described as “a light, hoppy summer beer” it now needs a name! We’re inviting the public to suggest a name for the new ale and we’ll pick our favourite at 9am Thursday 29th May.

“Send us your ideas by tweeting to @MERLReading #MERLfete, commenting on our Facebook page, or by email to by 9pm on Weds 28th May to enter. The winner will receive a pair of tickets to the MERL Village Fete and obviously a free pint of the new beer!

“There’s something for everyone to come and enjoy, from food-themed family tours of the Museum, free printing activities, traditional games and face-painting to delicious refreshments including ice-cream, smoothies (though you have to use your own cycle-power to make them!) cream teas and cake, a beer tent, vegetarian street food, and a hog roast. There’ll even be chickens and bumble bees!”

The MERL Village Fete takes place at the Museum of English Rural Life on Redlands Road on Saturday May 31st. Tickets are available in advance for £2.50 or for £3 on the door. Children go free. Details can be found at or by calling 0118 378 8660.

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    The Museum is now fully open, following a major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road


    RG1 5EX

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