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Return of the Hunt Picnic Competition to the Festival of Hounds

The organisers of the Festival of Hounds and the 136th Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show are delighted to once again invite hunts to enter the popular Hunt Picnic Competition, in the hunt lorry carpark at lunchtime on Wednesday 17 July. Competing for the coveted ‘Stirrup Cup’ basket of port.
Local award-winning food writer Jenny Jefferies, and Country Life Chief Sub-Editor Octavia Pollock, are once again returning to one of the toughest but most sought-after tasks at the Festival of Hounds, judging the Hunt Picnic Competition! The Hunt Picnic Competition helps to highlight the unique community that surrounds hunting, from farmers to foot-followers, the local butcher who supplies pork pie for the meet, to the retired hunt master who now supplies flowers for the picnic table arrangements.

With silverware, candelabras and groaning tables full of locally produced dishes and drinks on offer, we asked the judges for their top tips for this year’s entrants. Jenny Jefferies advised: “My top tips are to prepare what you all enjoy back at home, to share the food you love, and to relish the good company. What I enjoy the most about judging the competition is the variety of food on show and appreciating the absolute joy and effort that goes into preparing a winning picnic.
“Majestic pork pies, delicate salmon en-croutes, quality sandwiches, colourful salads, home-made cider, pickles and jam, candelabra, pretty crockery and tablecloths; the abundance of delightful and quintessentially British gastronomy and presentation can be both captivating and epic. Don’t hold back!”

The Festival of Hounds provides a unique opportunity for members of the hunt ing and wider rural community to get together and celebrate the countryside, its traditions and people. Jenny said: “My favourite part of this festival is the unique heritage and the variety of not just the hounds but also the people. I am very much looking forward to celebrating the 136th year of Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show!”
Last year, the hotly contested Stirrup Cup prize of a basket of port for the hunt’s opening meet went to the Wheatland Hunt, spearheaded by Mrs Sula Baugh, who commented: “Our ideas for a successful hunt picnic revolve round two main themes – showcasing local produce and connecting it to the hunt by having some of the same homemade food we produce for meets and after-hunting teas – sometimes I think we must consume more than any other hunt! So, we like to use local butchers, with meat produced on one or two of our farms, if possible, Shropshire cheeses, local beer and wine, (even local Sloe Gin). We are very lucky in that Shropshire has a wealth of small producers and excellent products.”

Judge Octavia Pollock, Chief Sub-Editor of Country Life, added: “I am delighted to be returning to Peterborough to judge the Hunt Picnic competition and will be fasting for the previous 24 hours in preparation. I know I will be impressed once again by the variety and imagination of the food, drink and decorations on display, not to mention the taste. The work that goes into preparing the picnics is incredible and testament to the camaraderie, fellowship and organisation of the hunt supporters, proof of the love we all have for our sport. I shall be looking for homemade offerings – not a single Tesco packet should be seen! – unique, historic and signature recipes, generosity of servings and attractive,
meaningful decorations.
“Beyond the picnic, the championship classes are testament to the depth of history in hound breeding, from main ring to beagles, and I will spend time at each, but I never miss the chance to augment my hunting library and wardrobe at the stands. The Festival of Hounds is truly the highlight of the summer. ”

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