Grab a plate and a fork - there's a lot of eating to be done

Grab a plate and a fork - the best street party in the country is about to get underway and, as it carries the name of the Dingle Food Festival, there'll be a lot of eating involved.

Now in its 13th year, the festival has long since earned its place at the top table of foodie events in Ireland; it attracts thousands of people to Dingle and they invariably go home feeling envious of the people who live here.

Festival Director Matthew Seán Ó Grifín from Lios Póil says the festival, which costs €50,000 to run, earns an estimated €1.5 million for Dingle over the weekend. He knows that is no more than an educated guess but the figure doesn't matter much because the real value comes from what the festival does to promote Dingle as a food destination. This amounts to a lot more than whatever is earned over the weekend and the benefit is spread across a great many local businesses throughout the year.

Matthew, who graduated from IT Tralee with a degree in Business and Marketing this year, is newly appointed as festival director and while it's an onerous task the burden is made lighter by the support of volunteers, community groups, businesses and the community generally, all of which helps to get things done with the minimum of fuss.

One of the groups who play an important part is Transition Chorca Dhuibhne, who are on a mission to help make the festival waste-free by next year. To this end people going out on the festival taste trail are being encouraged to bring their own tableware or buy the festival pack of reusable eco-friendly ware that is available at the festival office in Holy Ground, the festival information stall in Grey's Lane, and in participating local shops. Stall holders are also being encouraged to use compostable ware and compost bins are being provided along the taste trail so that these can be disposed of properly.

The festival opens at 8pm on Friday night with the annual 'Farmers Forum' in An Díseart, which focuses this year on what climate change is going to mean for farmers and others on the Dingle Peninsula. Speakers, including Xavier Dubuisson who is involved in a feasibility study into building an anaerobic digestor in West Kerry, will examine the implications of moving away from using fossil fuels and the opportunities to save money and create profitable businesses that this presents.

On Saturday and Sunday the taste trail will be the main focus for festival-goers with over 70 outlets around the town providing tasty morsels that range from pig on a spit to pig on a stick, and from Spanish tapas to rosé veal. At the same time there's a wide range of workshops and food demonstrations, with celebrity chef Neven Maguire heading the list.

Meanwhile, there will be entertainment for children in the garden of An Díseart on Green Street from 12 - 4pm on Saturday and Sunday. This is 'weather permitting' - a dubious enough prospect with Storm Lorenzo on the way and a rainy forecast for Saturday.

Full festival details are available online from or in the festival brochure which is available in the festival office and at many of the outlets around town.

Extended pedestrian zone for food festival

The pedestrian zone that operates in Dingle during the Food Festival is being extended this year to include Main Street, which means that the entire centre of town will be free of traffic during the busiest times of the weekend.

The festival has struggled for years to balance the demands of traffic and public safety when thousands of people are out on the streets. Pedestrianisation was introduced in limited areas some years ago and gradually extended but the opening of the new relief road has finally provided a solution to the festival traffic problem.

This year traffic will have limited access to Goat Street, Main Street and Green Street will be closed on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and Strand Street, Holy Ground and Grey's Lane will be closed all weekend.

Meanwhile, additional car parking spaces are being provided at the Údarás offices in Milltown, at Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, and on the seafront at the Cooleen side of the inner harbour (entrance from The Tracks, behind O'Flaherty's pub)

Pedestrian zones:

Main Street, Goat Street (open to residential traffic only), Green Street: Saturday, 11am - 6pm; Sunday 1pm - 6pm.

Strand Street, Holy Ground, Bridge Street, Grey's Lane: Friday 6pm - Sunday 6pm.