ORGANISERS of an inaugural food festival have pledged to return with ‘bigger and better’ offerings after disappointing feedback.

The very first Bicester Food and Drink Festival was criticised by some customers and traders for being too small and failing to entice footfall, although others were much more positive and said the rainy weather was to blame.

Stalls and a music stage set up in Market Square on Saturday for the two-day weekend event, but footfall was slow when the Oxford Mail visited on Sunday afternoon.

One trader, who asked not to be named, said: “Many people don’t know we are here, which is a shame. It’s like a farmers’ market, it should be much better.”

Though there was only a smattering of stalls compared to larger Oxfordshire food festivals, there was still an array of cuisines and produce from around the world.

Paul Parker of Global Fusion, selling vegan Creole baked goods, said the festival – which was free to enter – had ‘a lot of potential’.

But he said the impact of Saturday’s rain had been ‘disastrous’, adding: “The weather is a very important aspect of outdoor events.”

Stallholder Mark Oswick, owner of Moswicks Wines and Spirits, was much more positive.

He said: “Despite the weather, the people of Bicester have come out and supported us really well.

“I’ve been to events before when it’s rained and it’s been like a ghost town – it’s been a good turnout.”

Residents shared mixed opinions in public Facebook posts.

One wrote: “It was so disappointing. The company responsible who marketed this as a food and drink ‘festival’ should be so embarrassed! It was a tiny little market, nothing at all like advertised.”

But another added: “The food was amazing, lovely event... Love to see it back next year.”

A spokesman for organisers at Market Square Group said: “Unfortunately cold, wet weather negatively impacted footfall, despite extensive online and offline advertising in the build up to the event.

“We received a considerable number of visitors given the weather, with some good feedback from traders and the public.

“Although in its first year and a little smaller than some of our more established events, visitors were invited to enjoy some unusual food and craft products, a choice of beverages from a selection of bars and a live music stage.

“[We] take all feedback very seriously and hope to build on the positives from this year with a bigger and better event in 2019.”