We chat to Free From Festival’s Margarita Kalna about the ins and outs of setting up a foodie event in our FACILITY space. As the founder, Margarita has been running the nationwide festival for eight years to promote alternatives to gluten, dairy and refined sugar. She explains,
“According to data every third person is coeliac or gluten intolerant, and that’s not even taking into account other allergies. Alternatives are definitely something people are going to need more of as there are limited options in the supermarket.”
To remedy this lack of options, Margarita and her team bring together the best independent artisans, sellers and brands from around the UK offering revellers the opportunity to taste and purchase products, plus take part in talks with some of the best Free From experts, chefs and personalities.
You hosted the festival at DOCUMENT in 2022 – how was it being back this year for two days?
“It went really well. On Saturday we had 1700 people through the door for the Free From From Festival. Sunday was our Keto and Low Carb event and it was very successful – a lot of sellers sold out.”
How did you find the internal architecture and setting up your stalls?
“It’s a very good size. I couldn’t find a venue of this size in Bristol that’s ground level and open plan. People enjoyed how there was space between the stands and there was a great flow. This year we provided wireless headphones for the talks – like a silent disco.”
Tell us about your sellers?
“I work mostly with small businesses – and some bigger brands – most of them you can buy only online or from independent shops. The event is a great opportunity to try before you buy and take advantage of some great offers. Most of the stands are run by business owners, so you can meet the maker and owner, and it’s a great way to connect and buy into their business.”
So truly independent… Are some of them Bristol based?
“Out of the 55 brands, 10% were Bristol and the rest were from all over the country from: Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester, plus Devon, Cornwall, London and Essex.”
What’s the best thing about running your festival in Bristol?
“Bristol is a very green city and appreciates healthy alternatives, clean ingredients and nice food. The major difference is that in Bristol you don’t have any big health food shops like Planet Organic or Whole Foods – there’s Better Foods and small independents, but I feel like the options are quite limited. Bringing the event to Bristol also means local people are able to come and find out about new products.”
Keep it locked for more info on next year’s Bristol event.